In a perfect world, basketball senior night equates to football homecoming. Everybody hopes for a manageable opponent, a chance to get all players into the game, and a flurry of made memories for the reminiscences and reunions that lie ahead.
That scenario couldn't have played out much better Monday night for Great Crossing boys' basketball, which cruised to a 103-27 victory in his initial encounter with District 41 foe Frankfort Christian Academy.
The three least celebrated members in Great Crossing's inaugural senior class of eight — Jalen Austin, Bryce Hearn and Xavier Parret — each achieved a career high in the scoring column as the Warhawks breezed to their sixth win without a loss as a district newcomer.
“Obviously for us that was just about honoring our seniors. I think we had five of them in double figures. “Especially Jalen and Bryce, they've been there every single day. Some other programs they might be able to play a little more, but they have not said one single word this year about 'why am I not playing?' or whatever. They come in every day and work, so it was nice tonight to be able to reward them for that hard work during practice.”
K.J. Tucker, one of four seniors entrenched in the starring lineup from the season's opening tap, combined 16 points with five assists to lead Great Crossing. Neil Baker added 15 points and four assists, while Jaylen Barber amassed 13 points and six steals to lead the usual suspects.
Otherwise, it was a night for unsung heroes.
Austin (11 points, seven rebounds) and Hearn (10 points, five steals) were late additions to the team after the conclusion of GC's inaugural football season. Xavier Parret (eight points, eight boards) was projected as an impact player before a rash of injuries. Skylar Feezor (seven points, six rebounds) missed time with an ankle ailment after opening the season as a sixth man and spot starter.
“We haven't given up on the fact that they will be able to help us,” Page said. “X, he's had a concussion and a couple other things, so he's been kind of in and out. We had times he was in our rotation early in the year. He had an opportunity to help us as he season went along, just unfortunate circumstances got in the way. We've still got 10 days left in the regular season, so kids still have an opportunity to impress.”
All had their own highlight film on a night when GC shattered its previous program record for points in a game, set with 87 against Cambridge City Lincoln (Indiana) in the fifth game of the season.
Frankfort Christian (1-21, 0-4) finished with 35 turnovers and shot only 29 percent from the field against Great Crossing's ever-changing lineup. Femi Obielodan and Emerson Marcum led the Royals with 10 points apiece.
Navigating safely past half court was a chore at times. GC opened the game with runs of 16-0 and 32-2 on its way to a 67-17 halftime lead, then pitched a third quarter shutout with the help of a continuous clock. The Warhawks' previous fewest points allowed were 38 against Franklin County.
“They're a very young team and a little over-matched,” Page said. “Not much to take from that game, honestly, other than it was nice to see our seniors get a chance to shine.”
All that prevented it from being a perfect evening for the Warhawks was the limited role of Michael McKenzie, who was visibly affected by the flu during the pregame ceremony to honor the senior class.
McKenzie felt energized enough to watch the first half from the bench before making a token appearance after intermission, putting together two points, two assists and two steals in six minutes.
Great Crossing missed Tucker due to similar symptoms in a Saturday loss to Fern Creek.
“Mike was not feeling well. I didn't think he was even going to be able to come and walk,” Page said. “Fortunately he did, and then he started feeling a little better and said, 'Can I play a couple minutes?' I actually looked at him in the third quarter and said, 'How much longer do you want to play?'”
Tim Fuller and Tyler Sparks scored eight and six points, respectively, giving one of the largest home crowds of the season a glimpse of the future.
Great Crossing snapped a three-game losing streak, which matched its longest of the season, in the rout.
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at email@example.com.