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Crossroads tourney
First round, today
All games 7 p.m.
No. 6 Grace at No. 3 Huntington
No. 7 Spring Arbor at No. 2 Saint Francis
No. 5 Marian at No. 4 Bethel
No. 8 Taylor at No. 1 Indiana Wesleyan

Cougars hoping to keep up mojo through tourney

– The last time you saw him was Feb. 19 on ESPN, the fall-away 3-pointer rising and splashing down and then the young man who shot it pelting toward the far end of the floor, pursued by his teammates and half the student section.

Saint Francis forward Scott Kohne was all over “SportsCenter” that night, his game-winning rainmaker against Huntington turning up as the No. 1 play of the day.

And now?

Well, now the play of the day is simple: Keep the mojo going.

“Huntington is a great team, and anytime you can get a win in the Crossroads especially, it does create confidence,” said Kohne, as the Cougars prepared to take on Spring Arbor tonight in the first round of the Crossroads League tournament. “So anytime we can get a win it’s good, and a shot like that gives some energy.

“Hopefully we can just keep riding that energy and momentum into the conference tournament.”

The good news is that there is momentum right now for the 12th-ranked Cougars. The No. 2 seed in the tournament, they’re 21-9 and have won their last four, and they haven’t really been out of a game since Huntington got them by 11 points over a month ago. They lost three straight at the beginning of February – to now-No. 4 Indiana Wesleyan. No. 18 Bethel and Grace – by a combined seven points.

“Even though we lost those games against Wesleyan and Bethel, I thought we played well,” Saint Francis coach Chad LaCross said. “I thought there was a little bit of a letdown (against Grace), but, you know, we really responded well. I think since then we’ve been playing really well.”

Kohne agreed.

“Earlier in the year we were playing some good basketball, but right now I think everybody kind of knows their role, and everybody is kind of doing their job,” he said. “We’re playing really good basketball right now, and I think the momentum that we have right now we can keep riding into the tournament.”

Not that Spring Arbor will be easy, even though it’s the No. 8 seed at 11-19 and 6-12 in the conference. LaCross says the Cougars went “back and forth” with Spring Arbor at home Feb. 11 before finally winning 68-60. It was emblematic of the Crossroads League in general; five of its teams are ranked in the NAIA’s top 29, so nothing comes easy.

Which is a good thing.

“I think it’s huge,” LaCross said. “You think about every game the past couple years we went out to the national tournament, I think every game was decided by single figures. Our guys have been in those situations and know how to handle those situations.

“So I think it really prepares us.”

bensmith@jg.net

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