The Defenders faced the sixth seeded Saline County Warriors in the first round. After a competitive first quarter the Defenders opened up the running game in the second quarter with Gavin Stiles adding 8 points in the quarter and built a 39-21 lead at the half. Early in the third quarter two of the Defender starters, Brandon Hadley and Isaac Barger got into foul trouble. The third quarter was a close one, but the team played tough defense which lead to transition baskets. The Defenders were able to extend their half-time lead by two points with the score after 3 quarters being 53-33. The fourth quarter saw the return of Hadley and Barger and the transition scoring was back in full force with the Defenders outscoring the Warriors 22-5 for a final score of 75-38. Mason Waller led the team in scoring with 23, with Jaxon Coppinger (10), Isaac Barger (12), and Paul Nnaji (10) all scoring in double figures. Nnaji also led the team in rebounds (9). Isaac Barger led the team in assists with 6 helpers and also led the team in steals with 6 swipes.
In the second game of the day, the Defenders squared off against the number two seed, Pulaski Flames. The Defenders built a 10 point lead in the first quarter, with six different players scoring. At the end of one it was 18-8. The second quarter was even with both teams scoring 10 apiece and ending with a half-time score of 28-18. The Defenders extended their lead in the third quarter with tough defense and the score at the end of three was 37-23. The Flames mounted a furious comeback in the fourth but the Defenders weathered the storm and won the game 55-44. Brandon Hadley and Paul Nnaji both had double-doubles. Hadley racked up 13 points with 10 rebounds and Nnaji added 13 points with 11 rebounds. They tied for the games leading scorer with 13. Jaxon Coppinger (8), Gavin Stiles (8), and Mason Waller (7) rounded out the top scorers. Jaxon Coppinger paced the team with 6 assists against 0 turnovers.
With that win the Defenders entered Saturday’s Championship game against the number one seeded team, the OKC Storm. The Storm proved to be a formidable foe having two players that topped out at 6’5” and 6’6”. That length troubled the Defenders all game. The first quarter was even with the Storm eking out a one point advantage 11-10. The second quarter proved to the defining one with the Storm building a 22-14 lead at half. The third quarter was even at 10 each and the Storm won going away 41-29. Isaac Barger led the team with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds. The Defenders played well all weekend and they are very deserving of their second place finish.
Now the team turns their attention the NCHBC National Championships where the team hopes to garner a number one seed in class 3A. Their goal is to win the National Championship in 3A and get chance to play for the undisputed National Champion.