Crusaders win FCS/McDonald’s Invitational title


By Randy Young - For the Record-Herald



The Crusaders on the court at Fayette Christian School after winning the McDonald’s Invitational Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. (l-r); FCS head coach Gary Shaffer, Toby Butcher, Jake “J.P.” Crichton, Justin Wines, Gage McDaniel, Nate Crichton, Brady Bumpus, Nicholas Epifano, Christopher Toill, Lane Hufford, Zander Ivey, Drew Pontius and FCS assistant coach Vic Pontius.

The Crusaders on the court at Fayette Christian School after winning the McDonald’s Invitational Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. (l-r); FCS head coach Gary Shaffer, Toby Butcher, Jake “J.P.” Crichton, Justin Wines, Gage McDaniel, Nate Crichton, Brady Bumpus, Nicholas Epifano, Christopher Toill, Lane Hufford, Zander Ivey, Drew Pontius and FCS assistant coach Vic Pontius.


2020 McDonald’s Invitational All-Tournament team — (l-r); Brett Hixson, Mentor Christian; Nate Fishpaw, Wayside Baptist, Bucyrus; Justin Carr, Heritage Christian Academy, Ravenswood, West Virginia; and from the Fayette Christian School, Most Valuable Player Nicholas Epifano and Lane Hufford.


Chris Hoppes | Record-Herald

Fayette Christian School senior Nicholas Epifano brings the ball up the court, defended by Mentor senior Brett Hixson (3) during the championship game of the McDonald’s Invitational Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. Epifano was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.


Chris Hoppes | Record-Herald

The Fayette Christian School Crusaders won its third straight boys varsity basketball invitational over the weekend, running their overall record to 10-1 for the season.

Friday, Jan. 24, 2020

Semifinal No. 1

Fayette Christian 54, Wayside Baptist Academy (Bucyrus, Ohio) 44

Trailing 14-12 after the first period, senior Lane Hufford scored eight of the Crusaders’ 15 second period points to help them take a 27-24 halftime lead that the team never relinquished.

Hufford finished with 20 points to lead the team in victory. He hit two three-point field goals and led the team in grabbing eight rebounds in the contest.

Nicholas Epifano added 16 points and six assists in the game.

Zander Ivey had nine points and four steals, Nate Crichton hit for seven points and Drew Pontius added two points.

Fayette Christian was 9 of 9 from the charity line and grabbed 21 rebounds (4 on the offensive boards).

The Crusaders committed 15 turnovers but those led to only seven points for Wayside.

Wayside’s (3-5) Nate Fishpaw set a new tournament single game record with a 30-point performance.

He hit six threes in the game.

Judson Gregory added 12 points and Nicholas Garcia had two points for Wayside.

The Warriors were 6 of 7 from the charity stripe, grabbed 27 rebounds and gave up five points to the Crusaders on their 23 turnovers.

Semifinal No. 2

Mentor Christian Academy 44, Heritage Christian (Ravenswood, West Virginia) 37

Mentor (1-6) jumped out to a 12-7 first period lead and then held off a late charge by Heritage to pick up the win.

Brett Hixon led the Crusaders with 17 points and Matthew Goldfuss added 16 more.

The team was 6 of 10 from the free throw line. They had 26 rebounds (10 offensive) and committed 16 turnovers giving up six points.

The Heritage Saints (5-9) were led Justin Carr who poured in 25 points. Josh Scritchfeld had 10 points including three three-point field goals.

The team was 8 of 14 from the free throw line, had 28 rebounds (8 offensive) and committed 25 turnovers giving up 12 points to the Crusaders.

Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020

Consolation Game

Wayside Baptist 54, Heritage Christian 25

Wayside led 23-12 by halftime and was never challenged in the second half by the Saints.

Nate Fishpaw added 24 points to his two-day tournament total.

Judson Gregory poured in 17 points and added 16 rebounds, while his brother, Jansen, scored 13.

The Warriors were 3 of 6 from the charity stripe, they had 34 rebounds (9 offensive). They turned the ball over only 10 times.

Heritage was led by Justin Carr with 11 points. Oliver Vance came off the bench and added five points to the team scoring total.

The Saints were 5 of 10 from the free throw line. They had 19 rebounds (2 offensive) and had 10 turnovers giving up seven points to their opponents.

Championship Game

Fayette Christian 60, Mentor 38

Fayette Christian had four players in double figures in Saturday’s tournament finals, giving the school its third consecutive invitational championship.

Nicholas Epifano had a double-double, leading the team with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Lane Hufford added 17 points and seven rebounds.

Zander Ivey and Nate Crichton both contributed 11 points each.

Ivey hit three threes and Crichton had seven points in the critical first period that saw Fayette Christian jump out to a 17-6 lead.

Drew Pontius added two points and grabbed seven rebounds.

Mentor was led by Drew Rainey with 15 points (including three treys) and Matthew Goldfuss with 12 points.

FCS was 11 of 13 from the foul line, had 24 rebounds (7 offensive) and had 12 turnovers giving up only five points.

Mentor was 7 of 13 from the free throw stripe, had 17 rebounds (5 on the offensive side) and had 15 turnovers giving up 16 points.

“We played last week and lost down at Hillsboro,” FCS head coach Gary Shaffer said. “We lost two kids with injuries and another kid was gone, so we lost two starters — Brady Bumpus broke a finger and Justin Wines sprained his ankle. Zander Ivey was in Denver at a hog show. We were missing those three.

“This weekend I was concerned about our energy,” Shaffer said. “We needed to play with some energy and some enthusiasm. The kids did a great job. Nicholas and Lane are by far our best players and they did a great job. I think Nicholas had a double-double today. The kids did a great job.”

Fayette Christian plays host to Cozzaddale on Tuesday and then will travel Friday to play at Belpre Christian.

The Crusaders on the court at Fayette Christian School after winning the McDonald’s Invitational Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. (l-r); FCS head coach Gary Shaffer, Toby Butcher, Jake “J.P.” Crichton, Justin Wines, Gage McDaniel, Nate Crichton, Brady Bumpus, Nicholas Epifano, Christopher Toill, Lane Hufford, Zander Ivey, Drew Pontius and FCS assistant coach Vic Pontius.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2020/01/web1_Crusaders-team-pic.jpgThe Crusaders on the court at Fayette Christian School after winning the McDonald’s Invitational Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. (l-r); FCS head coach Gary Shaffer, Toby Butcher, Jake “J.P.” Crichton, Justin Wines, Gage McDaniel, Nate Crichton, Brady Bumpus, Nicholas Epifano, Christopher Toill, Lane Hufford, Zander Ivey, Drew Pontius and FCS assistant coach Vic Pontius.

2020 McDonald’s Invitational All-Tournament team — (l-r); Brett Hixson, Mentor Christian; Nate Fishpaw, Wayside Baptist, Bucyrus; Justin Carr, Heritage Christian Academy, Ravenswood, West Virginia; and from the Fayette Christian School, Most Valuable Player Nicholas Epifano and Lane Hufford.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2020/01/web1_All-tournament-team.jpg2020 McDonald’s Invitational All-Tournament team — (l-r); Brett Hixson, Mentor Christian; Nate Fishpaw, Wayside Baptist, Bucyrus; Justin Carr, Heritage Christian Academy, Ravenswood, West Virginia; and from the Fayette Christian School, Most Valuable Player Nicholas Epifano and Lane Hufford. Chris Hoppes | Record-Herald

Fayette Christian School senior Nicholas Epifano brings the ball up the court, defended by Mentor senior Brett Hixson (3) during the championship game of the McDonald’s Invitational Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. Epifano was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2020/01/web1_Nicholas-Epifano.jpgFayette Christian School senior Nicholas Epifano brings the ball up the court, defended by Mentor senior Brett Hixson (3) during the championship game of the McDonald’s Invitational Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. Epifano was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. Chris Hoppes | Record-Herald

By Randy Young

For the Record-Herald

Record-Herald Sports Editor Chris Hoppes contributed to this report.

Record-Herald Sports Editor Chris Hoppes contributed to this report.