PRESTON – It was no question when the Eagles stepped on the court Thursday afternoon against Preston High School’s junior varsity team. In the first quarter, the Eagles established an astounding 25-7 lead that would help get them to a 96-34 smackdown in the fourth quarter.
Rejoice Christian started out with five tough starters, including Jaden Lietzke, Justin Seay, Jayden McDonald, Gage Barham, and Harrison Hunnicut. Those five players brought it in the first quarter to score a total of 25 points. Seconds passed on the clock when Gage Barham went up for a three, which would be quickly followed by another two. Up 5-0, the Eagles earned back possession easily with junior Eagle Justin Lietzke going up for a two. The scoring frenzy didn’t stop until the buzzer sounded with the Preston Pirates only earning a couple of 2s and one three point shot.
Ahead 25-7, the Eagles picked up the pace with Seay shooting five twos throughout the second quarter. Possession usually bounced back into the Eagles hands, leading to easy scoring for the Eagles offense. Seay wasn’t the only repeat offender. Senior Grant Storm went up for two three point shots, while McDonald made it to the basket for two layups. The Preston Pirates tried to keep up but they could only make it to three point line three times before the end of the third quarter, allowing the Eagles to maintain a 58-16 lead.
Though their scoring slowed down in the third quarter, the Eagles still faired better than the Preston Pirates, who only put up seven points. Storm returned for another three at the beginning of the third quarter, while teammate Hunnicut made it to the basket for a two pointer. Preston takes ahold of the ball, but the Eagles grab it for a turnover under the basket. A foul puts Hunnicut at the free throw line and earns another two extra points for the Eagles, extending their lead to 65-19. Sophomore Griffin Paul doesn’t miss a beat before taking control of the ball and scoring from the three point line. Before the quarter was over Hunnicut would make it to the free throw line another two times for a total of four extra points for the Eagles.
Adding 17 points to the scoreboard in the third quarter, the Eagles continued to plow through the Pirates, 75-23.
By the fourth quarter, the Pirates had very little hope of coming back, facing a 52-point deficit and the Eagles further soldified the defeat by scoring a total of 21 points throughout the quarter. Junior Duke Curtis was the first Eagle to make it to the basket in the fourth, scoring a layup to make the score 77-23. Hunnicutt recovers the ball from the Pirates before they even make it their side of the court, bringing it back to Eagle territory. He tries to go up for a two but just misses it. A quick rebound gives Hunnicutt the chance of redeeming the missed two point shot, and he does, extended the score to 79-23. A series of rebounds and fouls helps the Eagles advance their lead against the Pirates. The Eagles became an unstoppable scoring force with Gates, Curtis and Hunnicutt making it repeatedly to the basket for points. The Pirates tried to comeback in the fourth scoring the most points they had all game, an a game-high of 11 points. However, the Eagles had an established lead and high-point scorers on their team, leading to an astounding end score of 96-34.
“A lot of guys playing [their] first week in the gym, so good to knock some rust off,” Coach Zac Briscoe said. “Hopefully, we get open shots like that again tomorrow and knock them down.”
The Eagles first win of the season puts them in the second round of the Winner’s Bracket. Rejoice Christian is scheduled to play 12:20 p.m. Friday against the winner of Game 2, which will either be Preston (3-3) and Kiefer (3-0).
Rejoice Christian – 96
Player Total Points
Dawson Gates 6
Justin Seay 15
Grant Storm 9
Gage Barham 6
Duke Curtis 6
Justin Lietske 12
B. Marsh 6
Jayden McDonald 8
Riley Walker 4
Harrison Hunnicutt 20