Evangel dominates East Central to wrap up perfect conference record

Published 1:45 pm Thursday, February 8, 2024

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

ALABASTER – The Evangel Christian Lightning capped off a dominant regular season with a 70-44 win over the East Central HomeSchool Patriots at the Evangel Sports Complex on Monday, Feb. 5.

With the victory, Evangel finished ACSC play with a perfect 8-0 record and won its first regular season conference title in eight years. The Lightning also finished their home slate with an undefeated record.

Evangel coach Hagan Joiner was proud of his team’s accomplishments to this point.

“We set a few goals at the beginning of the season that these guys wanted to accomplish,” Joiner said. “We have accomplished a few of those so far but still have a couple more to go.”

In their game against the Patriots, the first quarter set the tone for an offensive battle to come. Evangel and East Central combined for 34 points in the opening quarter, but it was the Lightning who had the early five-point edge and led 19-14 at the end of the period.

Evangel continued building on its lead in the second quarter with a 17-point quarter. Its defense held the Patriots to 12 points, and that allowed the hosts to extend their lead by five to 36-27 at halftime.

That was just the start of the Lightning’s dominance as they had their best eight minutes of the game during the third quarter.

Evangel dropped 24 points in the third as they asserted their will over the East Central defense. On the other end of the floor, it surrendered just 10 points to pull away for a 50-37 lead.

With the Lightning up 23 points going into the fourth quarter, they cruised to victory and wrapped up the 70-44 win.

Evangel had three players reach double-figures, with Owen Bugnar scoring a game-high 18 points, Cade Joiner recording 17 points and Hayden Black adding 11 points. In addition, Clay Stanton and Andrew Valentine each had eight points.

Coach Joiner was proud of how his team spread out the offense with so many players able to step up as scorers.

“I’m so grateful to have such an unselfish group of guys on the floor together,” coach Joiner said. “Each night, it could be a different guy doing the scoring, and these guys have had each other’s back.”

With the win, the Lightning improved to 20-3 on the season and enter the state playoffs with a nine-game winning streak.

Evangel will have a chance to win an ACSC state championship on Feb. 16-17 at Faulker University.