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Elyria Christian boys to play Hanover for 1A, Div. II crown

Elyria Christian senior Bret Anderson scored a game-high 18 points in Friday's state semifinal...
Elyria Christian senior Bret Anderson scored a game-high 18 points in Friday's state semifinal win against Pawnee Heights. (photo by Mike Courson)(CIK)
Published: Mar. 12, 2021 at 10:01 PM CST
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GREAT BEND, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - Good flow, good action, good game. Elyria Christian and Pawnee Heights played to a 1-point halftime score before trading big runs in the second half of Friday’s Class 1A, Div. II semifinal at Barton Community College. Elyria outscored the Tigers 25-11 in the final 10 minutes of action to advance to Saturday’s state championship game with a 55-42 win. The Eagles will play No. 1 seed Hanover.

“We thought we’d get that opportunity if we made it to Saturday,” said Elyria coach Zach Goodrich. “I’ve watched them a few times and know they’re pretty special. I consider them to be like a Berean Academy or Little River we’ve played five times this year between the two teams. I’d say we’ve seen some well-coached and talented teams quite a few times this year. For the sixth time we’ll see if we’re ready.”

Elyria pulled ahead 23-22 in the final minute of the first half on a putback from senior Kaden Aroum. Seniors Bret Anderson and Josef Hobson opened the second half with steals that went the distance, then Anderson scored on another offensive board for a 30-22 lead less than three minutes into the third quarter.

Pawnee Heights ended the run with a jumper from junior Braden Colglazier, then picked up four more points on drives from sophomore Alec Carlson. A 3-pointer from Carlson put the Tigers back on top 31-30 with 1:49 to play in the third.

Hobson answered with a baseline drive and the Eagles never trailed again. His hustle play to save a ball led to a basket from junior Keyan Wiggers for a 34-31 lead with a quarter to play.

Then Elyria was able to put it on cruise control. Running off 45 seconds to end the third, the Eagles burned 1:13 off the clock to open the fourth before senior Zack Stucky made a pair of free throws. Stucky scored eight points in the final eight minutes and Anderson added four points.

After Carlson picked up a fourth foul, the Tigers switched up defenses and the Eagles were able to capitalize.

“In our league, and some of the teams we’ve played in non-league, they all play man,” Goodrich said. “For us, we see that week-in, week-out and we’re better in those sequences. When we got the game into that position I think our guys got a little more confident.”

Early on, Pawnee Heights’ defense was able to keep the Eagle slashers out of the paint. Carlson scored four points in the opening frame for a 9-5 Tiger lead. Colglazier was huge on the offensive glass in the second quarter with a pair of putbacks, and junior Adam Hands bounced in a trey to keep it close at 21-20. But with eight points from Anderson in the frame, Elyria led 23-22 at the half.

Hands paced the Tigers with 15 points. Carlson added 13 points and four assists, and Colglazier finished with 11 points, 11 boards, and four assists. Pawnee Heights, playing in its first state tournament in 49 years, ends a Cinderella run at 14-10.

Anderson led Elyria (16-9 overall) and all players with 18 points and four steals. Stucky added 16 points, and Hobson finished with 10 points and four rebounds.

“Those guys are our seniors,” said Goodrich. “They’ve been a group, all year, we’ve depended on. Stucky, since his freshman year, I just knew he was a kid I could trust on the floor with the ball. I’m just excited for him to find that mojo in this run we’re making. Anderson and Joe have just been steady all year. I’m just super proud for them to find that success in this brand of basketball right now.”

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