By Colin Welniak ‘24

On Friday, March 2, the Crusaders traveled to Thornton High School in Harvey to play Thornton in the IHSA Class 3A Sectional Championship.

Before the game started, everyone knew it was going to be a good game. The line getting into the game alone took around 20 minutes to get into the gym. The gym was packed, one side with Thornton fans, while the Crusader fans sat across the gym.

Despite Thornton not being very close to home, the Crazies were out in full force ready to cheer on the Crusaders.

Senior Ryan Hartz said, “(The atmosphere) was electric, definitely one of the most fun games ive been able to go to.”

The Crusaders didn’t have the strongest start to the game. Within the first minutes of the game, the Crusaders quickly found themselves down 18-9.

Trailing by nine, Coach Stamas called a timeout to try and stop Thornton’s momentum. Luckily it worked, and the Crusaders slowly closed down Thornton’s lead.

The game was then back and forth with the Crusaders going down four or six points then coming back. The game was like this going into the fourth with the score at 42-39 Thornton.

Senior shooting guard Cale Cosme said, “Coming out of the locker room, we knew we had to come out strong. Being down ten on the road is always tough. We were able to go on a run to tie until they hit a late three pointer to go up three in the fourth quarter, and we lost our momentum.”

The Crusaders were right back in it going into the fourth with each team going shot for shot. Junior guard Marcos Gonzales really stepped up and was a big key in keeping the Crusaders in it.

Senior Joey Lombardo said, “It was a great game, and I don’t think this one game should define them. They should be proud of themselves for the amazing season they had.”

The Crusaders battled to the end, but, sadly, the outcome was not what they were looking for.

On the bright side, the Crusaders finished their season with 31 wins, the most in Brother Rice basketball history.