The Crusaders and Mustangs go at it tonight at 7 o'clock at Masuk High School in Monroe.
"Immaculate has a well-rounded team which makes them difficult to defend," Holy Cross head coach Ed Generali wrote in an email earlier this week. "A good blend of size and great guard play."
Justin Strielkauskas is just one of the seniors who has helped
lead Holy Cross to within a game of a trip to the Sun.
"We have to be able to defend as well as we have thus far in the tournament and rebound against a bigger team," Generali wrote. "Get back on defense to control the transition game and defend inside action."
Immaculate is led by 6-fooot-1 senior Darius Hunter, 5-11 sophomore Ronan Doherty, 6- 5 senior Alex Gerbo and 6-3 junior William Hatcher. One thing to note, and it may have been an aberration, but the Mustangs were a terrible 19-of-40 from the foul line. The Crusaders have also struggled from the foul line at points, so free throws could be a huge factor in this game.
Holy Cross has been able to move its season one game past where it ended last year, and the players are happy.
"Players are excited about the opportunity and they are one step from the Sun," Generali wrote.
Before the quarterfinal appearance last year, the Crusaders had missed the state tournament in 2013 (Class LL) and 2014 (Class S). Holy Cross has had a tradition of success under Generali, but things weren't easy in 2013 and 2014. The Crusaders began to get back on track last season, and now they're one game away from the ultimate trip in 2016.
"It's a testament to our seniors and how they have persevered to get this far," Generali wrote. "I'm proud of everyone's efforts to get here!"
Now, it's down to one game against Class S's top seed for a trip to the Mohegan Sun Arena. If Holy Cross wins, it would be the first trip to the Sun for the Crusaders since the championship games were moved there beginning in 2009.