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Keswick 0-3 against the Royals

First, it was in football.

Then girls basketball.

But the third time was supposed to be the redeeming charm for Keswick Christian. Unfortunately, the Crusaders ran into Taylor Young.

Keswick Christian, playing in its first boys basketball region final, came up short against First Academy, 64-54. Young, the Royals' all-time leading scorer, torched the Crusaders for 31 points as First Academy returns to the state semifinals a second year in a row.

For the Crusaders, it was the third bittersweet meeting between the schools this year in a region final.

"We kind of had it in the back of our heads going into the game," said Blake Engelhardt, who was the Crusaders' starting quarterback when the teams met in the fall. "So, we kind of said this was a revenge game. But they've been here before and they definitely showed it."

From the start, the Royals displayed the experience and poise of a region finalist.

First Academy sliced through the denial defense of Keswick with crisp backdoor cuts and precision passing from either Young or junior guard Chris Fitzpatrick, who finished with eight assists. Meanwhile, Young could not be stopped, as the senior guard hit all four of his shots in the first quarter to help the Royals take a 20-9 lead.

"He was impressive, could do anything on the floor, simply the best player we saw all year," Keswick point guard Kenny Shorter said.

Young continued his onslaught in the second quarter, adding nine points to his first quarter-total as the Royals went into halftime with a 34-21 lead.

"Against a quality team like that, especially with the type of guards they have, you can't afford to get down like that," Keswick coach Jack Skipper said.

The Crusaders made a game of it early in the fourth quarter, when they pulled within 45-38 with six minutes left. After a Royals' miss, Engelhardt, who finished with 17 points, scored again inside to get Keswick to 45-40, but that was as close as the Crusaders would get.

"It's pretty tough to come back on us when we have a player of Taylor's ability," First Academy coach Chris Mayberry said. "He just can do so many things out there, including handling the ball towards the end and the pressure."

Young hit 6-of-7 free throws down the stretch as the Crusaders attempted a comeback, but could not convert any field goals on their end to match Young's points.