The Shekinah Christian boys basketball team picked up some valuable experience during the three-day Arthur-Okaw Christian Holiday Classic in Arthur, Ill.
The team went 1-2 on the trip, but coach Keith Lambert said there were plenty of positives that came from this tournament experience.
“As the defending champion, we definitely had a target on our back,” Lambert said. “The competition was very tough, but it helped our guys mature and hopefully improve through the process.”
Shekinah Christian 74,
Eagle Ridge Christian (Mo.) 48
The first game Dec. 27 was against a 9-1 Eagle Ridge Christian squad that featured Nemanja Tosic, a 6’-8” guard from Serbia who came in averaging 26.2 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game.
The Flames (3-5) brought a tremendous effort defensively, holding Tosic to just two points in the first half and nine points total for the game.
Shekinah played its best half of the season and jumped all over Eagle Ridge thanks to some hot shooting and strong rebounding. The Flames started the game on a 22-2 run and finished the half up comfortably 47-16. The first half alone the team hit a whopping 11 three-pointers from five different players. For the game, Shekinah made 14 of 35 shots from the three-point line (40 percent).
Freshman Joel Headings led the team with 20 points. Senior Chris Conte added 15 points and sophomore Ben Hershberger added 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Junior John Michael Hershberger dished out eight assists and had four steals while junior Austin Lynn grabbed 10 rebounds.
Crossroads Christian (Ill.) 72,
Shekinah Christian 61
A day later the Flames took a lead into the fourth quarter, but injuries and illnesses caught up with the team as Crossroads outlasted the Flames in the semifinal. Crossroads (15-2) would go on to win the tournament by dominating the championship game 98-60.
Headings again led the way offensively with 21 points, including five three-point baskets. Austin Lynn added 10 points and nine rebounds. The Flames shot 11 of 24 from beyond the three-point arc (46 percent), but 15 second-half turnovers were too much to overcome.
Arthur-Okaw Christian (Ill.) 60,
Shekinah Christian 59
These two teams had met in the championship game of this tournament the last two years. Shekinah lost this one in heartbreaking fashion after leading by eight points with two minutes left in the game. But timely shooting by the host school, a few late turnovers by Shekinah and controversial calls ultimately led to the flames defeat.
Headings again led the way with 23 points. Ben Hershberger added 16 points and led the team with even rebounds.
Conte was named to the all-tournament team by averaging 11 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game while making three three-pointers per game. Conte also won the tournament 3-point contest by making 17 three-pointers in a minute and then winning the tiebreaker by connecting on 11 three-pointers in 30 seconds.
Headings led the team in scoring by averaging 21.3 points per game. He made 4.7 three-pointers per game. Ben Hershberger also averaged double-figure scoring by pitching in 11.7 points per game and grabbing 7.0 rebounds per game.
The Flames hope to avenge an early-season conference lost to Delaware Christian (4-2) when they next take the court at home at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 5.
Shekinah girls go 1-2 in Illinois
The Lady Flames (7-2) also competed at the Arthur-Okaw Christian Holiday Classic and picked up a couple victories.
The team fell to Mountain Top Christian (Wis.) 67-56 and was overwhelmed by Arthur-Okaw Christian 48-14. The squad did manage to bounce back in its last game of the tourney for a 50-11 win over Wabash Valley (Terre Haute, Ind.).
Shekinah will play host to Granville Christian at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 6.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.