Maranatha Christian Academy excels in the open court. It also can efficiently break down a team while holding the ball.
The No. 1-ranked Mustangs were at their best i n the final 17 minutes, turning a two-point lead into a 61-44 victory over Mountain Lake Area on Thursday in the Class 1A quarterfinals at Williams Arena.
“We had a good flow in the first half, and let off the gas,” Mustangs senior forward Isaiah Hanson said. “We needed to step on the gas pedal again in the second half, and stay on it.”
Coach Jeff Wall’s squad has used a balanced attack all season in building a 30-1 record. On Thursday, the Mustangs had four starters and their top reserve in double figures.
“All season long we have had four players in double figures and maybe five,” Wall said. “Each guy brings something different to the table.”
Sophomore Grantham Gillard came off the bench to score 15 points, all in the second half. The Mustangs stretched a four-point lead to 13 when he rattled off 13 consecutive points for his team.
“Sometimes young players will take a step back in big games,” Wall said. “Both Grantham and Jeremiah [Hanson, Isaiah’s brother] were aggressive today. They weren’t awe-struck.”
Sophomore Jeremiah Hanson had 13 points, seniors Garrison Gillard and Isaiah Hanson 12 and 11, respectively, and junior Josh Goldschmidt 10. All five starters, including senior Shan Cheema, who didn’t score, had between two and four assists.
“We played better defense in the second half,” Gillard said. “Our defense led to our offense being better.”
The Wolverines (24-6) tried to match Maranatha by pounding the ball inside to Carter Kirk or Josiah Stoesz. They combined for 34 points and 27 rebounds and each had a double-double.
“We came here wanting to play three games,” Wall said. “This is the first step.”
Trojans keep surprising
Rushford-Peterson 72, Lakeview Christian 54: Trojans coach Tom Vix knew he could have something special. In 2014, that is.
His young Rushford-Peterson squad, with just one senior among his top seven players, has exceeded expectations all season. It was no different against the run-and-gun Lions (20-11) in the quarterfinals.
Junior forwards Seth Thompson and Jorli Hauge scored 19 and 18 points, respectively, to lead the seventh-rated Trojans (27-3) over Lakeview Christian. Rushford-Peterson used an 11-0 run in the first half to build a 12-point advantage.
“We were hoping we would be able to make it back to state,” said Thompson, a reserve on last year’s Trojans, who took third place. “We are so young, and small. We knew it was going to be a tough road. For us to be here and have 27 wins, I think that exceeds expectations.”
Lakeview Christian senior guard Anders Broman, the state’s all-time leading scorer, scored a game-high 34 points. He was 13-for-24 shooting. He ended his prep career with 5,119 points.