Defending champion Agape Christian School got even with Mt. Carmel School after escaping with a 35-30 win in their second meeting in the regular season of the middle school division of the 2017-2018 Commonwealth Coalition of Private School Association Basketball League yesterday at the ACS court in Middle Road.
The Torchbearers’ victory also ended the Knights’ run at seven games. Agape, which topped MCS in last season’s finale, 31-19, improved its record to 5-2 to remain at second place in the team standings. The defending champion lost its first meeting with rival Mt. Carmel, 16-32, and absorbed its second defeat at the hands of Grace Christian Academy.
Agape used a 13-3 scoring spurt in the third quarter to avenge its first round loss to the Knights last Sept. 21. The third period wrapped up with only a point separating the opposing teams, 18-17, in favor of the Torchbearers. The Todd Pane-coached Agape then drew field goals from four players to turn a shaky lead to a double-digit advantage, 31-20, entering the fourth canto. Bobby Bao knocked in a pair of baskets for the defending champion, while Silas Xu and David Zheng each had one basket and a split free throw, and Arthur Liang drilled a triple to give Agape an 11-point cushion.
The Knights were held on one field goal in the third quarter, courtesy of Merrick Toves’ shot from beyond the arc, to fall behind and were pressed to mount a comeback to keep their perfect record intact.
The Francis San Nicolas-mentored Mt. Carmel did made a final push in the fourth period behind Toves and Earl San Nicolas, who logged 4 and 6 points, respectively, to threaten Agape. However, Agape built enough cushion in the third period and drew one basket apiece from Xu and Zheng to foil the Knights’ comeback bid and save the day for the defending champion.
Xu, the lone holdover from last season’s champion team, finished with 14 points, while Bao chipped in 9, and Zheng added 7. Liang completed Agape’s box scores with his 5 markers. Toves had 12 points on a losing effort, while San Nicolas contributed 8.
The victory over Mt. Carmel was second in a row for Agape, as the latter came from a 45-24 demolition of Marianas Baptist Academy last Wednesday. Zheng top-scored for Agape in their easy win over MBA with his 21 points, while Liang also broke into double figures, making 10.
Next up for Agape is its first round tormentor GCA Eagles. The Agape-GCA tiff will be played at the Torchbearers turf today, starting at 3:30pm. Two more matches are scheduled this afternoon with Saipan Community School hosting Seventh Day Adventist and MBA challenging Saipan International School at the latter’s court in As Lito. Mt. Carmel will return to action this Friday and hopes to regain its winning form when it takes on SIS at the Geckos court.
Agape 35 — Xu 14, Bao 9, Zheng 7, Liang 5.
MCS 30 — Toves 12, San Nicolas 8, Diaz 4, Steele 2, Borja 2, Tenorio 2.
Scoring by quarters: 9-9, 18-17, 31-20, 35-30.