Last year the Lutheran North girls team opened the season with a championship in the Orchard Farm Tournament and finished with a 13-11 season.
All but one player from that team returned and the Crusaders could be the team to beat in this year's tournament. The Crusaders crushed Wright City 54-17 in the first round Monday night.
Lutheran North held Wright City scoreless in the first quarter and allowed only four points in the first half while racing to a 35-4 halftime advantage.
The Wildcats had 18 first-half turnovers and a dozen turnovers before scoring their first points on a three-point play by Jodi Peasel with 5:22 to go in the second quarter.
"We are a very young team and we are going to have some bumps along the way," Wright City Coach Crystal Emmons said. "We did not come out ready to play tonight and we can not allow that to happen."
Lutheran North struggled a bit at the offensive end in the first quarter as it scored 11 points in the first eight minutes. But the Crusaders, who were playing their first game of the 2006-07 campaign, exploded early in the second quarter, scoring 12 points in the first two minutes.
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Lutheran North had a 24-0 lead before Peasel's three-point play. The full-court pressure defense of the Crusaders caused numerous Wright City turnovers, but just as disappointing was the Wildcat defensive rebounding -Lutheran North had countless second and third chance opportunities.
"We may have a whole practice dedicated to rebounding," Emmons said. "We have to do a better job in that aspect of the game."
Wright City came on more aggressively in the second half although Lutheran North seemed to let up on its pressing defense.
"It was a decent first game for us," Lutheran North coach Anthony Virdure said. "We have a lot of quick guards and we like to put pressure on the other team. It was a pretty good defensive game for us but we need to be more under control on offense. I told the girls not to be fooled. It's not going to be like this all year."
Emmons hopes her inexperienced team can learn from its losses to Silex and Lutheran North.
"Silex was a real physical team and Lutheran North was very quick," Emmons said. "We came out flat in every aspect tonight. I hope the girls learned a lesson, but they can't hang their heads."
The Orchard Farm Tournament continues throughout the week with the consolation championship scheduled for Thursday night. The championship game is slated for Friday night.
Westminster Christian Academy is the top seed in the tournament. Lutheran North is seeded second.