Champion MBB Goes 2-0 in Champion Classic
Champion Christian College men's basketball started the 2023 season with the 3rd annual Champion Classic, matching up with familiar foe Ecclesia College and NAIA Bacone College. The Tigers were primed and ready to go, working all off season for this moment, and they did not disappoint.
In the home opener against Ecclesia College, to say the playing conditions were good would be quite the over statement. With 100% humidity, raining all day, and 70 degree weather, the basketball court felt more like a hockey rink. That didn't stop the 2 teams from playing hard, as the first half was a back and forth affair. After falling behind 9-0, the Tigers stormed back into the game, going on a 13-3 run to take the 1 point lead. From there, the Tigers and Royals traded buckets for most of the first half, with the Tigers going into half time up 37-33.
The second half was much like the first, with both teams battling, going back and forth, with neither team being able to stretch their lead to more than 6 points. The Royals Brandon Jackson caught fire, scoring 15 on 5-8 from 3 in the half. The Tigers on the other hand couldn't buy a 3 point bucket, shooting 1-7 in the half and 2-21 for the game. With 1 minute left, and the game coming down to the wire, AJ Williams finished an acrobatic layup to put the Tigers up 1 with just 40 seconds left. Ecclesia Secured a rebound to attack, and with 6 seconds left went to their main man, only to be stopped by sophomore Damian Bohlman, who locked up and got the game sealing steal, icing the game on defense.
The Tigers would end up winning by a final score of 75-74. Check the full Box Score here.
On the second day of the Champion Classic, and the court continuing to be slippery, administration decided to make the safe call and moved the games to nearby National Park College to ensure the safety and well being of their athletes. On day two, the Tigers took on Bacone College, an NAIA school from Oklahoma. Bacone had lost the day before, so they were ready to go out and win their first game of the year. From the tip off it looked like the Tigers might control the game and win by a large margin. In the first 5 minutes of the game the Tigers were able to stretch their lead up to 13-1 followed by a 3 from Sophomore Josh Walpole. The lead would not drop below 10 and would stretch as high as 16 before the half. with 1 minute left in the half, Bacone's Chad Milne hit 2 3's to cut the Tigers lead to 10 going into the half.
To start the second half, Bacone couldn't miss a shot. For the half, the Warriors shot 69% from the field, and 43% for 3, and it showed. It felt like the entire team was on fire, and no matter the contest or defense the Tigers played could slow them down. Luckily for the Tiger faithful, our offense was firing on all cylinders as well. The Starting 5 of AJ Williams, KJ Younge, Damian Bohlman, Malik Laurent, and Xavier Hall combined for 40 of the teams 48 points. The Tigers led 39:50 of the game, and never let up, but the Warriors fought hard and kept it close. The Tigers would end up winning the game 96-89. To see the full Box Score, click here.
Going 2-0 for the first time in Champion Classic history, the Tigers look forward to next week, competing against Williams Baptist University.