Grace Christian Academy wrapped up the regular season on a high note after defeating Northern Marianas International School, 30-17, in the Commonwealth Coalition of Private Schools Association Middle School Basketball League last Friday at the Eagles’ court in Navy Hill.
The Eagles overcame a 4-8 deficit in the first quarter to overtake the Phoenix and clinch the No. 3 seed in the playoffs after finishing the elimination round with a 7-4 record. The Phoenix, on the other hand, dropped to a 2-9 record and have one game remaining in the regular season.
Ryan Daproza made a layup early in the third period to even out the score, 12-12, then Justin Du nailed a turnaround shot to to give the Eagles their first taste of the lead, 14-12.
After leapfrogging the Phoenix, the Eagles maintained a tight grip on the lead behind their suffocating defense. While NMIS failed to put points up in the penultimate period, five GCA players netted field goals to give their team a 20-12 advantage heading into the fourth period.
Daproza had a putback and fastbreak layup to start the fourth canto, while Richard Castro and Praise Woo also scored. The Phoenix’s second half meltdown continued in the last period, as they managed to tally just 5 markers, allowing GCA to record a 13-point winning margin.
The Phoenix bowed to the Eagles despite coming out swinging in the first quarter. Eddie Valdoz delivered 4 points for NMIS, while Justin Mateo and Luke Sobresemana made one field goal apiece for their 8-4 lead. Justin Du and Daproza scored the 4 points for GCA.
The Eagles then mounted a comeback in the second period with Daproza, Railee Yumul, and Steven Adriatico teaming up in slicing the deficit to a deuce at the break, 10-12.
When the game resumed, Valdoz’s turnaround jumper and Mateo’s 15-footer kept the Phoenix on top before the Eagles’ hustle plays on both ends of the floor fueled GCA’s successful comeback.
Daproza led the Eagles with his 10 points, while Castro stepped up in absence of GCA captain Lance Lerio and contributed 6 markers. Valdoz top-scored for the Phoenix with his 10 points.
In other results, Mount Carmel School barely escaped past Saipan Community School, 20-19.
Up by just a point to start the fourth period, 14-13, Gabby San Nicolas nailed a trey and a deuce for 5 points, while Leo Naraja hit a free throw to save the Knights. SCS came close to seizing the lead, as McDonald and Miles Borja registered 4 and 2 points, respectively, but the Tsunamis ultimately fell short.
San Nicolas finished with 9 points, while Naraja added 7. McDonald led all scorers with his 11 markers.
The Knights now have an 8-3 slate, while SCS stumbled to a 4-7 card.
Meanwhile, Agape Christian School will host NMIS today, while Saipan International School and MCS will duke it out at the Koblerville Gymnasium. Over in Susupe, Seventh Day Adventist will visit SCS to cap the regular season matches.
GCA 30—Daproza 10, Castro 6, Justin Du 4, Woo 4, Adriatico 2, Alepuyo 2, Yumul 2.
NMIS 17—Valdoz 10, Mateo 3, Pineda 2, Sobersemana 2.
Scoring by quarters: 4-8, 10-12, 20-12, 30-17
MCS 20—San Nicolas 9, Naraja 7, Borja 2, Galang 2.
SCS 19—McDonald 11, Aleksenko 6, Borja 2.
Scoring by quarters: 8-2, 14-10, 14-13, 20-19