XRDS — Crossroads’ boys’ basketball team ended up on the losing side of a tit-for-tat battle with Pasadena’s Blair on Friday night, losing 73-65 to end the season in the second round of the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section Division 5AA playoffs.

Despite the loss, the Roadrunners’ standout senior guard Luke Shmuger was every bit as exciting playing in his final game as he was throughout his career. He swished mid-range jumpers from the top of the key with ease en route to 23 points on the night, slightly more than his 19.2 season average.

After the tough loss, Shmuger, who head coach Kevin Jackson calls “Cool Hand Luke,” stayed true to the nickname. The player, who has committed to play at NCAA Division 3 Kenyon College in Ohio, displayed little visible emotion as teammates gathered around him.

He spoke of the team, not himself.

“We didn’t get the defensive stops,” he said. “Gyasi [Williams] was in foul trouble.”

Crossroads head coach Kevin Jackson pointed out that after leading 38-35 at the half, his team was simply dominated by a more physical, athletic group from Blair.

Blair’s 6-foot-4 center Sherman Simpson was an intimidating presence inside and more often than not challenged Crossroads to the ball on both defensive and offensive boards.

“Those second-half rebounds killed us,” Jackson said. “We had Luke do what Luke does. He’s made big shot after big shot.”

Jackson said he will miss Shmuger, whom he has known since the player was in middle school. Having coached his travel team and calling him one of the best players he’s ever coached, Jackson said he feels that Shmuger deserves to be named to the All-CIF-SS team for the division.

“It’s going to be tough to see them go, because they’ve been here so long,” Jackson said, jokingly calling his senior class “inbreds.”

Crossroads was without the services of lanky scorer Williams in the second half due to foul trouble. But, Williams played well down the stretch when it mattered. He came off the bench with two minutes left in the game and was fouled on a lay-up attempt. He nailed a free throw that brought the game within two of Blair at 63-61, but the Roadrunners couldn’t get any closer.

Crossroads finished the season 15-10 and 5-5 in Delphic League play.


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