Agape Christian Academy dominated Mt. Carmel School in the second half to ease its way to a 40-17 title win in the boys division of the 2018-2019 Commonwealth Coalition of Private Schools Association Middle School Basketball League last Friday at the Koblerville Gymnasium.
With the finale still too close to call after the first half, as Agape led by only 3, 14-11, the Torchbearers pulled away in the third quarter after holding the Knights scoreless in that pivotal period. Agape’s much taller frontliners clogged the lanes, as they often allowed only one shot per customer and forced Mt. Carmel to take long jumpers and miss. On many occasions, it took the Knights a lot of time to set up their offense, as Agape defenders prevented them from penetrating the paint.
While Mt. Carmel fired blanks in the second half, Agape was on target, especially on fastbreak plays. Eason Tang converted back-to-back easy layups off steals near midcourt to spark the Torchbearers’ breakaway in the third period, which ended with the eventual champion ahead by a baker’s dozen, 24-11.
The Knights’ struggle on offense continued in the majority of the fourth quarter and only ended when the ball landed in front of Leland Deleon Guerrero after a rebound play and the guard banked in point-blank shot. However, Deleon Guerrero’s basket did not matter that much, as Agape was in full control, 32-13, and time was on the Knights’ side with only a little over three minutes left in game.
With their wide margin, Torchbearers coach Kok Pang pulled out his three starters, while Gabby San Nicolas reported back into the game for MCS after sitting out majority of the third quarter following a collision with an Agape player and drilled two straight baskets.
Though still ahead by double-figures, 32-17, Pang recalled his starters for good measure and Tang, David Zheng, and Baby Bao finished the job to hand Agape the boys middle school crown—a day after the school was stunned by Grace Christian Academy in the girls division finals.
“I have confidence in my players. Even though we lost in the girls finals, I know our boys team is a much stronger group, so I am not so worried. But still, I asked them to remain focus and play good defense against Mt. Carmel because offense will come next,” Pang said.
“We definitely have a height advantage over Mt. Carmel and we used that to take control of the game, especially in the second half. Our boys are also fast because they are runners so we got a lot of fastbreak baskets,” the Agape coach added.
Tang top-scored for Agape with his 18 points, while Antonio Zi added 8, making most of them in the paint. Zheng, Bao, and Caleb Dai combined for 12 markers, while Tony Liang rounded out the Torchbearers’ box scores after logging 2.
San Nicolas paced the Knights with his 9 markers, as only him and Leo Naraja delivered more than two field goals for Mt. Carmel.
The title win completed Agape’s sweep of the season, as it earned an 11-0 record in the elimination and defeated Saipan Community School in the semifinals.
Agape 40 —Tang 18, Zi 8, Zheng 4, Bao 4, Dai 4, Liang 2.
Mt. Carmel 17— San Nicolas 9, Naraja 4, Cepeda 2, Deleon Guerrero 2.
Scoring by quarters: 6-5, 14-11, 24-11, 40-17