By Jimmy Navarrete ‘23
After winning the Riverside Brookfield Thanksgiving Tournament, the Crusaders are back at home. Last Tuesday, the Crusaders hosted Morgan Park High School in their home opener. This was a big time game not only for the Crusaders, but also for the Mustangs of Morgan Park. Going into the game, Morgan Park found success going 4-0 in their Thanksgiving tournament.
Having Morgan Park being a well-respected basketball program, this was a great matchup for the home opener. Two teams coming off big weekends; it was bound to be a great night of basketball on Pulaski.
Senior forward Khalil Ross said, “It feels good to be back; it is going to be a special season. The energy the Crusader Crazies bring is unmatched.”
The Crusaders knew it would be important to come out strong in the first quarter to set the tempo. They did just that, leading 23-7 at the end of the first. The Crusaders were excited to be back home playing in front of the Crusader Crazies. They were hitting shots, flying around on defense, and doing the little things like rebounding, running the floor hard, and getting back on defense.
The second quarter was a little bit different. The Mustangs seemed to settle in and started to get back into the game. You could tell the momentum was shifting at times for Morgan Park. They came out hot, hitting shots and locking in on defense. The Crusaders let them back into the game. The quarter came to the end, and the Crusaders were up 40-28.
The Crusaders knew that they had to come into the third quarter strong and focused just like how they started the game. Quickly, the momentum shifted back towards Rice. Then Ahmad Henderson started to take over; he was hitting tough shots while also getting the team involved. Another impactful player was Cale Cosme; he was showing off his deep range from three and pushing the ball in transition. The third quarter was all Rice leading 62-35 heading into the fourth.
The Crusaders went on to win their home opener 81-47. Rice looked much more energized and locked in, while having fun. It was a great fan turnout with an electric atmosphere.
Ahmad Henderson said this about the team’s first home win: “It was a great team win and contributions from everybody across the board.”