GRAND ISLAND — When Adams Central and Grand Island Central Catholic played Jan. 25, the Patriots beat the Crusaders 64-54. But in the leadup to a rematch in the Class C-1, subdistrict 9 championship, the Patriots had to prepare for a completely different Crusaders team.
That's because in the first meeting, GICC's best player, 6-foot-4 center Youhanna Ghaifan, was out with an injury. He had eight points and 10 rebounds Thursday night, but his stats didn't matter too much; just his presence alone completely changed the dynamic of the game.
Patriot defenders squeezed on him, which allowed other Crusader playmakers like Elijah Hunter and Phoenix Stevenson to take control.
The Crusaders (17-8) built a huge first half lead and ended the Patriots (14-12) season with a 58-38 win.
"(Ghaifan) is the best post player in the state — Class B on down. He changes everything," said Adams Central head coach Zac Foster. "Our whole focus was to stop him. He and (John) Rohweder were our focus, and at halftime, those two had just seven of their 37 points. We did what we wanted. Their other players stepped up and made plays."