The Johnson Crusaders (5-11) took care of business on their home court with a 69-63 win over (10-7) pushing their season-best winning streak to three games. The key to the recent success? Getting back to basics said John Caliguire.
"We're having fun again. We stopped stressing about the little things," said Caliguire. "I think we started to remember why we started playing this game in the first place."
The senior guard did it all for the Crusaders, finishing with 16 points, four assists, four blocks and three rebounds. Most importantly, Caliguire was versatile on the defensive end, covering everyone from bigs Matt Billups and Tom Ward to sharpshooter Kevin Zychowski, showing great hands as he turned away all four of his shots in the second half.
"He is just a great player," said Caliguire. "If you give him an inch he is going to hit it. But the challenge is fun."
Still, Zychowski proved to be a dangerous and crafty shooter from both the mid-range and from beyond the arch, finishing with 28 points. The guard converted on six three-point attempts, including a late basket that put the Rams within three at 61-58.
Dan Hogan finished 10-for-11 from the line for the Crusaders and finished the game with nineteen points. Hogan continued to calmly hit his shots from the line late in the game as the Rams conitnued to cut into the lead.
Oratory got off to a hot start early and appeared set to pull away on several occasions in the first half behind great ball movement and a size advantage that allowed them dominate the early rebounding totals. Both Billups (16 points) and Ward (6 points) finished with 10 rebounds.
The first quarter would be the best for the Rams as Johnson's defense began to settle in. The team showed great halfcourt defense and the versatility to cover all of the players on the court.
"That is something that coach always stressess," said Caligurie. "That all of our guys should be able to play and defend every position on the floor."
The team was impressive on the offensive end, moving the ball well and always seeming to make the extra pass. They finished the game with 11 asssits.
Next up for the Crusaders is a road matchup with the Dayton Bulldogs on Friday. Oratory will look to get back on the winning track on Friday when they host the Pioneers of New Providence.
Johnson14 15 18 22 69 Oratory 20 13 12 18 63
Johnson- Dalziel-14, Dunn-7, Caliguire-16, Johnson-8, Hogan-19, Banek-2, Siessel-2, Kovatzh-1
Oratory-Roper-5, Alf. Guerreiro-2, Ward-8, Billups-16, Zychowski-28, Browne-4
OratoryJohnson FG 17 20