Strong & Lady Crusaders In Battle Of #1 Against #2 This Thursday
By: Jon Hockaday
The Grace Christian Lady Crusaders rolled to their 23rd win this past Monday night and will put their top NCISAA 1A ranking on the line this Thursday night against #2 ranked Victory Christian of Charlotte at Torgerson Gymnasium in Sanford. Top ranked Grace, at 23-1, beat top 20 opponent Weslyan Christian on Monday, and will host Victory Christian of Charlotte (14-8) in a 6:30 start showcasing two of the top girls’ teams in the state. Grace, top ranked in the NCISAA 1A poll, is ranked 11th among ALL teams and classifications in North Carolina.
For those that haven’t seen the Lady Crusaders this season – you should make the effort to check them out. Not only do they showcase the #5 player in the Class of 2024 in 6’2” Sophomore Sarah Strong, but Grace is well balanced with speed, defense, rebounding, and shooters. Strong leads the way with 24.6 ppg and 17.2 boards, but four other Lady Crusaders average 9 or more points per game. Grace has now won 17 straight and will get a good test Thursday when the Lady Kings arrive from Charlotte.
Being familiar with local high school sports and following local girls’ and boys’ basketball for many years, I have been fortunate to see some of the best girls’ teams that have played in our local area. Lee County has featured some good teams over the years – the Fowler girls and Cindy Kelly led the Lady Jackets in the 80s, and Angel Buie was featured on a Lee team in 2003 that reached the final four. Yasmine Butler led Southern Lee to a 24-4 mark in 2012 and Grace has had several good teams – with the Jourdan Frye and Julia Parker team from the early 2000’s probably their best. But arguably, there hasn’t been a local team as talented as the one at Grace this season.
Sarah Strong is a 5-Star rated player for the class of 2024 and she has plenty of help around her. With 6’ Lara Lieckfield on the inside to provide additional scoring and rebounding, guards Danauje Brooks, Miyah Campbell, and Halisi Whitley cause havoc defensively and get the ball where it needs to go on offense. Brooks and Campbell are only freshman and Whitley a sophomore which only makes this even more impressive. Their skills are well beyond their years, and it is nice to see the basketball fundamentals they possess.
Victory Christian shows five players at 6’ or taller and nine Seniors and Juniors on their roster. It should be a good matchup and no doubt college scouts will be in attendance. The Lady Crusaders are well coached, and Head Coach Chad Revelle has been working hard to find games that challenge this Lady Crusader team. It will be interesting to see how the young Grace guards handle a taller and more experienced opponent in Victory Christian. The Lady Kings have played the 2nd toughest schedule for teams ranked in the top 25 in NC and the matchup Thursday night should be a good one.
Come check out the game this Thursday at 6:30 at Grace Christian and/or follow the game on WFJA Sports 105.5 FM. Airtime for the game is 6:15 and the broadcast will also stream online at: www.wfjawwgpradio.com.