Cousins Luke and Sloan Lentfer have been enjoying basketball collectively for so long as they’ll each keep in mind. And it appears that evidently every time the Grace Christian boys basketball group wants a bucket or these essential free throws, one of many seniors is there to reply the decision.
For the third straight weekend, the Grizzlies will play for the match title on Saturday after a decisive 58-53 victory over host West Excessive within the semifinals of the Alaska Airways Traditional on Friday. Each gamers reached double figures in factors and had been once more integral to the group’s success.
On Friday, it was Luke Lentfer who hit a pair of late free throws within the last minute to chop Grace Christian’s lead from three factors to 5.
“They love the second they usually get plenty of probabilities to point out that they are fairly particular gamers,” Grace Christian coach Jason Boerger mentioned.
Changing free throws has been a spotlight for the group early within the season.
“That was positively considered one of our weaknesses, so we labored on it and capitalized, which was good once we wanted it,” Luke Lentfer mentioned.
Final weekend, the Grizzlies ran the desk within the 2023 Alaska Prep Shootout, ending with an exhilarating win over Dimond. The weekend earlier than, they did the identical factor at Fairbanks’ Mt. They did within the McKinley Financial institution Event.
In opposition to West, Luke scored 19 factors and Sloan was second within the recreation with 17 factors, and he additionally had a team-leading 14 rebounds for a double-double.
The 2022 3A state runners-up took on the Eagles in a decent back-and-forth battle that noticed a special group lead on the finish of the primary three quarters as the 2 groups made runs.
“It was positively a run recreation,” Boerger mentioned. “West was simply relentless, they saved coming again and saved pushing us and it was a type of video games the place you knew anyone was going to make a play and it went our approach tonight.”
On the finish of the primary quarter, Grace Christian narrowly led 16-15. West would pull inside one level at halftime after sophomore Boub Marial made a layup and was fouled for a free throw simply earlier than time expired within the second quarter.
The Grizzlies took a 44-43 lead into the ultimate interval, and Luke Lentfer would rating eight of the group’s last 11 factors to steer them previous the Eagles, who ultimately tried a livid rally however had been unable to return again late. scoring alternatives.
“We’re a 3A group, so we’re underdogs and we have got nothing to lose,” Luke Lentfer mentioned. “I believe we do nicely in stress video games.”
It marked the group’s eighth straight victory and third over a 4A opponent of the season.
“We have got plenty of massive objectives and plenty of massive video games forward of us, so we’re grateful to have these experiences to arrange us for the postseason,” Boerger mentioned.
The Grizzlies will face their hardest check of the season thus far within the title recreation towards California’s No. 2 group, Grace Christian, within the title recreation. The Warriors defeated 2022 4A state runner-up Betty Davis East Excessive within the first semifinal battle Friday evening. The championship recreation is scheduled for Western at 7:30 p.m.
“It is simply a possibility,” Boerger mentioned. “We’re not favored and that is okay. This is among the finest experiences we will get from this expertise and it’s a particular alternative. We’ll exit to win it. We will likely be bodily prepared and play at our personal tempo.”
The Warriors additionally had two gamers account for greater than half of their group’s factors in a 50-35 win over the Thunderbirds. They had been led by 6-foot-6 sophomore Tae Simmons, who scored 26 factors. Senior guard Giovanni Goree added 14.
It was the primary journey to Alaska for nearly everybody on the group, aside from one coach who performed within the males’s Nice Alaska Shootout a long time in the past. For lots of the gamers, the final two days have been an actual introduction to the snow, and since they’re on the town, the group has been doing a little sightseeing.
“It has been an unimaginable expertise,” Tait mentioned. “Basketball opens doorways to journey and see various things, so we’re very joyful to play on this match.”
Regardless of struggling its first lack of the season and having its seven-game successful streak snapped, there have been some shiny spots for Bettye Davis East in its loss to Heritage Christian.
“There aren’t any ethical victories at East Excessive, however we performed as onerous and as onerous as we may,” East coach Chuck Martin mentioned. “I am pleased with our children as a result of it is onerous to arrange for one thing you have by no means seen and may’t simulate.”
The Warriors jumped out to a fast double-digit lead and held a 19-5 lead on the finish of the primary quarter and added a number of extra within the second half, permitting 9 to take a 31-14 lead into halftime.
After halftime, a special Thunderbirds group appeared to emerge from the locker room as they had been particularly engaged on protection and had been capable of flip the tide within the third quarter by scoring a number of factors and holding Heritage Christian to only 9 factors. .
“We’re not an elite offensive group, however we’re an important defensive group proper now, and that is what we will hold our hat on,” Martin mentioned.