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The United Christian Academy Lady Crusaders enter the 2011-2012 campaign in a rebuilding mode. Gone are the likes of Gina Clark and Ashley Bonin, and replace them with a group of ladies, with no senior leadership, and some with little to no basketball experience.
Sarah Roy will once again be at the helm of the UCA squad. It is her 2nd year as head coach of the Crusaders, but she is no stranger to the sidelines, having spent years as a North Country assistant, as well as an AAU and Border Hoop coach.
Entering Saturdayâ€™s tilt against the Trinity Baptist Kings, Coach Roy said that, â€śEveryone on the team is expected to contribute, but we are going to rely heavily on our 3 Juniors: Laura Libby, Olivia Foster, and Hannah Piette. These 3 ladies know how to play the game of basketball. They have been selected as captains and they will need to be the rock of the team.â€ť
Sophomores Nicole Roy, Whitney Carter, and Jiwon Hon, along with Freshman Sydney Whipple, Moriah Lafoe, Kathryn Daigle, and Christina Maxwell make up the core of young talent that will provide the depth Coach Roy needs for the Crusader attack.
The game got off to a slow start Saturday morning, as the Kingsâ€™ Corinne Roy would reel off 6 points, thanks in large part to 3 UCA turnovers, before Nichole Roy would knock down a 20 foot jump shot, to get the Crusaderâ€™s on the board midway through the first quarter.
After 2 Laura Libby free throws cut the lead to 12-6, TBâ€™s Roy would hit a buzzer-beating lay-up to put Trinity Baptist on top 14-6 at the end of 1.
Trinity would go on a 6-0 run to start the 2nd quarter, before Libby would knock down a baseline 2, and Hannah Piette sank a long jumper, from one step inside the3-point line, to cut the lead to 20-10. Olivia Foster would add 4 points of her own, just before the buzzer, sending both teams to the half with Trinity Baptist on top 28-14.
The break must have done them a world of good, because UCA looked like a different team coming out of the half. They started to make the smart pass and pressured the Kingâ€™s offense into making mistakes. Another Foster 2 would pull the Crusaders within 11, at 34-23, with 1 minute remaining in the 3rd. After the Kingsâ€™ Yvonne Korpi, hit a 3 from the top of the arch, at the buzzer, the final at the end of 3 quarters had the Kings on top 37-25.
The Crusaders kept hanging around all game long, but couldnâ€™t get any closer than a 10 point defect. A Piette 3 with 6 minutes left in the game, cut the score to 39-28. And a Libby runner in the lane, made it 42-30, but UCA would not get any close than that and as the final buzzer sounded the Crusaders found themselves on the wrong side of a 48-34 defeat.
UCA held their own in the second half, keeping the contest at a 14 point defect. They made a run mid-way through the 3rd quarter, but the Korpi 3 at the end of the 3rd, seemed to take away all the momentum that UCA had built up.
After the game Coach Roy was pleased with her teamâ€™s performance saying, â€śWe came out slow, but I think a lot of that had to do with first game nerves. Once they got a half under them they really showed the capability that this team possess. â€ś
â€śThat 3 pointer at the end of the third was a big turning point, we were chipping away at the lead, and that shot just took away all momentum. But, we will go back to practice and head on the road Thursday to face off against a tough Richford squad.â€ť
Libby and Piette paced the Crusaders scoring 9 points each, Foster chipped in with 8 of her own, and Nicole Roy and Sydney Whipple each had 2. The Kings were led by Corrine Roy with 16 and Yvonne Korpi with 14.
The Lady Crusaders will travel to Richford on Thursday, December 15th, to face off against a tough Rockets team. Tip-off is set for 5:30.