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Highland Christian ekes out comeback win
MARYSVILLE — Grace Academy junior Garrett Weinberg had a better night shooting than any two players on the court, but his Eagles still fell short of defeating Highland Christian.
With his third three-point basket at the buzzer, Weinberg’s team fell 35-34 to the Knights in the Jan. 13 clash on the Highland Christian court.
A team effort by the Knights proved decisive with seven players scoring, though none reached double digits. Weinberg’s 18 points were a game high, followed by Jay Lee’s eight.
Highland Christian seniors Craig Crawford and Jeff Kelly used defense to try disrupting the Grace offense that lit up the boards in the first quarter with back-to-back treys from Lee and Weinberg. While the Knights were unable to put on more points than the three Crawford shot from beyond the arc, steals from the duo smothered some of the momentum the Eagles had been building.
Another Crawford trey cut the Grace lead in half, to 13-9 midway through the second quarter. Senior guard Caleb Brown narrowed it again, to two, but Grace parried for a 17-11 halftime lead.
It took the second half for Highland Christian to really close the gap. A Crawford steal turned into a three-point play, kicking off a 7-0 run that would tie the teams 18-18. Five different players scored in a third quarter that ended with a one-possession Grace lead.
Forward Luke Simmons’ six points in the fourth quarter — his only points all game — put Highland Christian in its first lead of the game. Senior Vince Kurtzenacker scored two points on a potential three-point play to put the Knights up 34-31 with about a minute to go. Hitting the second basket at the free-throw line, Kelly scored what amounted to the game-winning point.
“We finally played with heart, intensity, passion, desire,” said Highland Christian coach Guy Kennedy. “We worked through cold shooting. The pressure was the difference tonight.”