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Lancers claim NCCAA region crown

Friday, March 8

Grace’s men’s basketball team won the NCCAA Midwest Region championship on Thursday thanks to a 96-87 victory over Cincinnati Christian.

The Lancers will await their seeding and opponent for the 2019 NCCAA National Championships. The tournament field will be announced on Saturday night, and information will be posted at www.gclancers.com/NCCAA.

NCCAA Nationals are hosted by Grace next week from March 13-16; the tournament will feature the final games of head coach Jim Kessler’s legendary career after he announced his retirement one month ago.

Three players for Grace reached 20 points on Thursday. Charlie Warner (22 points), Haden Deaton (21) and Logan Godfrey (20) led the Lancers in scoring.

Grace’s offense was efficient in the first half. The Lancers (16-15) committed just three turnovers and scored 48 points in those 20 minutes.

The Lancers scored the first six points of the game and slowly built up a lead. Five quick points from Warner lifted Grace to a 16-6 lead.

Late in the half, Grace extended its cushion even more. The Lancers scored 10 unanswered points, bookended by 3-pointers from Warner, to open up a commanding 16-point lead.

CCU was unable to make a push for the rest of the half, allowing Grace to seize a 48-36 edge at halftime. Warner scored 14 points in the half, and Deaton had 11 points.

The Eagles (16-16) found a rhythm to start the second half. CCU ripped off 18 points over the first five minutes of the half to chop Grace’s margin down to 58-54 with 14:55 remaining.

Grace responded with a 10-2 run of its own. Jaret Sons and Warner each drilled a triple during that spurt to gain separation.

The next few minutes were a steady diet of Godfrey. The Lancers found eight of their next 10 points from the All-Crossroads League forward to sustain a double-digit lead.

Grace substituted liberally in the second half yet still managed to control the contest. Godfrey was substituted out of the game after his scoring surge with 4:30 remaining and never returned. But the Lancers had no trouble closing out CCU en route to a 9-point win.

Godfrey posted a double-double of 20 points and 14 rebounds despite playing just 22 minutes, adding a team-high three assists. He was 6-of-11 from the floor and 8-of-8 from the foul line.

Deaton shot 10-of-19 for his 21 points, and Warner was 5-of-9 from beyond the arc for 22 points.

Eddie Gill IV did not miss a shot from the floor. He was 3-of-3, amassing eight points and three boards in eight minutes of work.

Sons finished with seven points and nine rebounds, and Joseph Smith had six points and three boards.