Agape, MCS set finals duel


Agape Christian School’s Eason Tang pulls up for a shot against two Saipan Community School defenders during their semis game in the CCOPSA caging yesterday at the Koblerville Gymnasium. (Roby N. Pamintuan)

Agape Christian School and Mt. Carmel School earned contrasting wins to set up their title showdown in the boys division of the 2018-2019 Commonwealth Coalition of Private Schools Association Middle School Basketball League.

No. 1 seed Agape overcame a sluggish start to breeze past No. 5 Saipan Community School, 54-17, and get the first finals berth yesterday at the Koblerville Gymnasium. Mt. Carmel, on the other hand, survived a late-game scare from Grace Christian Academy in the other semis match, 28-25, to clinch the other ticket to the championship game, which will be played tomorrow at 3:30pm.

With the score knotted up at the break, 14-14, the Torchbearers poured it on in the second half to bury the Tsunamis. David Zheng and Eason Tang caught fire when the game resumed, as they combined for 28 of Agape’s 40 points in the second half with the former making 16 and the latter adding 12.

Tang hit two consecutive layups to turn things around for Agape, which still fell behind early in the third quarter after Charlie McDonald nailed his two free throws, 14-16.

After seizing the lead off Tang’s back-to-back baskets, the Torchbearers shifted into overdrive and went on a 12-0 scoring run to gain a 30-16 advantage, heading into the last period.

Agape then snuffed out any hopes that SCS had for a comeback with a 24-point output in the fourth quarter. Zheng waxed hot from deep, as the Torchbearers captain connected on three treys and a 15-footer for 11 points in that final period alone. Tang and Bobby Bao chipped in with 4 points apiece, while Jordan Miao and Steve Qiu each scored a field goal. While Agape was firing on all cylinders, the Tsunamis went ice-cold, as McDonald’s free throw was the team’s only basket in the fourth canto.

Before collapsing in the second half, SCS kept things competitive as it led after the first period, 8-6. McDonald logged 4 points, Miles Borja knocked in a free throw, and Daniel Kang swished a trey to give their team the early lead.

However, Agape managed to even out the count at halftime behind Zheng’s 4 points and Anonio Li and Tony Liang’s second-chance buckets in the second period. Then after the break, the Torchbearers buckled down to work to torch SCS.

Zheng led the Torchbearers’ charge with his 22 points, while Tang and Bao chipped in 12 and 10 markers, respectively. McDonald paced SCS with his 11 points and was the lone player on his team to finish in double figures.

In the second semis game, the Knights drew crucial baskets from Jacob Wesley and Gabby San Nicolas to escape past the Eagles.

With GCA holding on to a 25-24 lead, with a little over a minute left in the close game, Wesley banked in a 15-foot jumper to put Mt. Carmel on top. Wesley’s deuce was his lone field goal in the game, but it came at the perfect time.

Then at the 30-second mark, Gabby San Nicolas zipped through GCA’s scrambling defense and drilled a fastbreak layup to seal the deal.

San Nicolas, Leo Naraja, and Derek Sasamoto teamed up for the Knights’ balance attack with the former scoring 9 points. Naraja and Sasamoto contributed 7 markers apiece, while Ryan Daproza led GCA with his 12.

Meanwhile, GCA and Agape will duel for the girls championship trophy today at the Koblerville Gymnasium, starting at 3:30pm.

First Game
Agape 54—Zheng 22, Tang 12, Bao 10, Miao 4, Li 2, Liang 2, Qiu 2.
SCS 17—McDonald 11, Kang 3, Aleksenko 2, Timmons 1.
Scoring by quarters: 6-8, 14-14, 30-16, 54-17

Second Game
MCS 28—San Nicolas 9, Naraja 7, Sasamoto 7, Borja 3, Wesley 2.
GCA 25—Daproza 12, Lerio 6, Justin Du 3, Jason Du 2, Castro 2.
Scoring by quarters: 10-4, 17-10, 17-19, 28-25

Roby N. Pamintuan

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