By Danny White ‘22
The Crusaders walked into 64th and Dante at 21-5 and 10-2 in conference. But, they also walked in on a three game losing streak.
The atmosphere was the classic Catholic League Conference battle crowd – student sections for both teams, plenty of eight graders, and a great deal of alumni.
Point guard Ahmad Henderson got the fireworks started as he flew down the court for a layup. He then assisted Ryan Kenney on a layup next time down the court. A couple possessions later he knocked down a 23 foot jumper, giving him five points in the first four minutes. Just before the quarter ended he would add a second assist, finding Nick Niego in the corner for three.
Heading into the second quarter, the Crusaders found themselves up five, 17-12. Ahmad´s hand stayed hot as he started the quarter off with a floater while getting a hand to the face and a successful trip to the free throw line.
First defensive possession of the quarter Ahmad would recover a loose ball that was deflected by Khalil Ross. Junior Peter McShane ran a go route up the court trusting Ahmad would find him like a quarterback. And he did.
Then, on the defensive side of the court he stepped up into the line and took a charge giving the Crusaders huge momentum. Seconds later he would pitch ahead to Nick Niego in the corner for three points.
Ahmad broke open the second half with a deep three pointer, extending the Crusaders lead to double digits.
But the third quarter did not treat Ahmad well. After the deep three to start the quarter he would miss his next attempt, then would turn it over twice while trying to feed his teammates the ball in the post. Struggling to get open off the ball, Ahmad tried to create for himself off the bounce but would miss two attempts in a row.
Up four a couple minutes into the 4th quarter Ahmad smartly floated a shot amongst the trees in the paint. Next possession,
Ahmad cooked his defender, like a chef as teammate Cale Cosme would say, laying it in for two: ¨Guarding Ahmad in practice is like trying to contain a bunny on your front lawn.¨
Ahmad would find Niego in the corner for three, again, for the third time tonight. Nick is grateful to Ahmad as his point guard: ¨Ahmad is a great scorer, but what he is truly best at is finding shooters when he’s driving.¨
The Crusaders buried themselves in overtime, going down seven with one minute left in the 4th quarter. Ahmad did not give up though and he loved the challenge: ¨When the game is on the line, I’m in my prime.¨
He would get back to back ¨and 1´s¨ and add another layup to bring the Crusaders down three. With seconds left, the Crusaders had one more shot to send it to another overtime. With all the attention on Ahmad, the Crusaders went a different direction for the shot, but could not execute.
Ahmad finished with 31 points and 6 assist, while shooting it at 58%.
The Crusaders would lose four straight and travel to St. Rita on Tuesday.