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RACINE — The game of basketball has radically changed since Jeff Christensen became head coach of the Racine Lutheran High School boys team three decades ago.

When Christensen assumed the Crusaders’ reins, the game was played at a slow, methodical pace with a priority of getting the ball inside the lane to the big men.

Now days, the game is fast-paced with an emphasis on perimeter shooting.

“The game has changed tremendously,’’ Christensen said. “It’s changed at every level: high school, college and pro.’’

That was abundantly evident on Tuesday night, when Racine Lutheran pushed the ball at every opportunity and shot from the perimeter at every opportunity in recording a 100-54 victory over Milwaukee Juneau in a WIAA Division 4 regional quarterfinal at Lutheran.

The victory sends the Crusaders (9-14) into Friday’s 7 p.m. semifinal against Living Word Lutheran (16-7) at Jackson. Living Word Lutheran defeated Kenosha Christian Life 79-43 Tuesday night.

If the Crusaders can mimic their performance against Milwaukee Juneau, they could give heavily-favored Living Word Lutheran a run for its money. That’s because the Crusaders put on an impressive long-range shooting clinic against the Pioneers.

The Crusaders launched 24 shots from beyond the arc and connected on 13 of them – a lights-out 54 percent. A pair of seniors – Ryan Hoover and Brent Ogden – set the tone for the 3-point barrage.

Ogden hit a trey just a minute into the game and Hoover followed with one of his own less than a minute afterward. That enabled the Crusaders to get off to a blistering 9-0 lead.

Ogden and Hoover stayed in the zone virtually the rest of the first half, with Ogden finishing with 14 points and Hoover nine as the Crusaders moved to a 41-28 lead.

The urgency in which Ogden and Hoover approached the game made a distinct impression on Christensen.

“They played well right from the get-go,’’ Christensen said. “That’s what you’re looking for from seniors.’’

Of course, Ogden and Hoover knew they had to be on top of their games or they’d be turning in their uniforms for good after the game. Both three-year varsity performers, Ogden and Hoover acknowledged they didn’t need anyone to motivate them for this game.

“I was excited to play tonight,’’ said Hoover, who connected on five of eight 3-pointers. “I didn’t want this to be our last game.’’

Added Ogden, who was two of five on 3s: “I was definitely excited about this game. I love playing in the tournament.’’

Hoover finished with 22 points and Ogden contributed 18. The Crusaders also got 13 points from Jackson Woodard and 12 from Brady Wilks, both freshmen guards.

Crusaders junior guard James Wilson almost scored in double figures, totaling nine points, and may have made the most important points of the game, at least to the partisan crowd.

With 7.5 seconds remaining in the game, Wilson went to the free-throw line. The fans immediately stood up and started yelling, hoping he would make both shots for the Crusaders to reach the century mark. Wilson accommodated them, coolly make each attempt.

It was the perfect way to cap a near-perfect night for the Crusaders, who didn’t commit a single turnover in the second half in pulling away.

“We really passed the ball tonight; we were very unselfish,’’ Christensen said. “This was a good win.’’

And shot it well, too.

Racine Lutheran 100, Milwaukee Juneau 54

JUNEAU (6-16)

Roberts 9 8-15 26, Moore 1 2-2 5, Wymberly 2 1-3 5, Kontney 2 2-2 8, Blandino 2 6-6 10. Totals 16 19-30 54.


Woodward 5 1-1 13, Kraus 1 5-6 8, Wilks 4 2-2 12, Wilson 3 3-9 9, Tenner 1 0-1 3, Yohn 2 0-1 4, Zawicki 1 0-0 2, Wagner 2 2-2 6, Ogden 5 6-6 18, Hoover 8 1-2 22, Brandies 1 0-0 3. Totals 33 21-33 100.

Halftime—Racine Lutheran 41, Milwaukee Juneau 28. 3-point goals—Kontney 2, Moore, Hoover 5, Woodward 2, Wilks 2, Ogden 2, Kraus, Brandies. Total fouls—Milwaukee Juneau 29, Racine Lutheran 23. Fouled out—Perkins, Moore, Blandino, Wymberly, Yohn. Rebounds—Milwaukee Juneau 30 (Blandino 8), Racine Lutheran 32 (Wagner 8).


Sports Reporter

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