Crusaders win to start hoop season

Published 5:11 pm Wednesday, November 18, 2009

First Baptist and Chesapeake Bay got an early start on their basketball seasons on Tuesday evening and the Crusaders made it a victorious start with a 57-41 win at Chesapeake Bay.

Playing under first-year head coach Lee Cross, the Crusaders were led by their usual captain and main playmaker, senior Pete Twisdale. Twisdale did some of everything, totaling 17 points, seven rebounds, five steals, five blocks and five assists. Unlike many First Baptist games from a season ago though, when the Crusaders finished with three wins for the season, the Crusaders were far from a one-man show in their season opener.

On the perimeter, First Baptist got scoring and good defense from point guard Ben Joslin and reserve Justice Fuller. Inside, Colby Toler and Aaron Cockrell earned praise from their new coach for their play on both ends of the court.

“I’m really proud of the big guys. Defensively, they did a good job for us staying out of foul trouble, but still rebounding well,” said Cross, who is an alum of Nansemond-Suffolk Academy. Cross was a center in his playing days for the Saints and he’s coached NSA’s JV and JJV teams in past years.

Toler, at the power forward position, finished with 15 points and nine rebounds. Cockrell, at center, had nine points and 11 rebounds. Joslin added 10 points.

First Baptist led through most of the first half, but a hectic pace and too many turnovers kept the Crusader offense from making any big runs.

The Crusaders got a lift from Fuller, an eighth-grader, who scored three buckets and assisted on two more fast-break baskets.

Toler and Twisdale scored in the lane, then Toler cut down the lane and scored off a pass by Twisdale, to finish the half with a 6-0 Crusader run and a 24-20 Crusader lead.

Chesapeake Bay held First Baptist scoreless for the first 4:16 of the second half, but the Dolphins managed only four points themselves, so with a free throw by Cockrell, First Baptist regained the lead, 25-24.

Cockrell grabbed an offensive rebound and powered back up for a hoop at the 2:30 mark of the quarter. On the next First Baptist possession, Joslin drained a three from the top of the key, making it 30-24 Crusaders. First Baptist led 34-26 going to the fourth period.

Chesapeake Bay cut the Crusader lead down to two early in the fourth before a 15-2 First Baptist run put the game away.

Toler scored off an offensive rebound to give First Baptist a four-point lead. Twisdale intercepted a Dolphin inbounds pass and made a wide-open lay-in to make it 43-36 Crusaders with 3:36 left. Joslin hit his second three-pointer of the game to stretch the lead to 53-38 with 1:40 left.

“We started practice the last week of October, so we’ve had a little more time than you might think,” said Cross, who said however, his team wasn’t able to practice most of last week since school was closed because of the nor’easter.

“Of course it’s never as much time as a coach wants,” said Cross.

“Everyone was excited to be here and excited to play. Once the game settled down some, I think we made better decisions and did well,” said Cross.

The season opener was also the conference opener for the Crusaders and Dolphins. First Baptist’s athletic director, Joe Cockrell, said First Baptist and Chesapeake Bay are two of seven schools in a new private school conference. Summit, Virginia Beach Friends, Gateway, OakTree and Veritas are the other members.

The league is so new, said Cockrell, that there isn’t an official name to the conference yet.

The Crusaders and Lady Crusaders have their home openers on Tuesday, Dec. 1 against Voice of the Believers. The girls varsity game is set for 6 p.m.