Grace Christian Academy secured the last finals berth in the girls division of the 2018-2019 Commonwealth Coalition of Private Schools Association Varsity Basketball League after beating Agape Christian School, 28-21, yesterday at the Koblerville Gymnasium.
After a close opening quarter, the Lady Eagles found their stride in the second to gain more cushion en route to the semis win and a finals date with the top-ranked Mount Carmel School this Friday.
Ahead by only 2 at the start of the second canto, 6-4, GCA captain Jasmine Phan fed a wide open Katriel Saures and the latter delivered with a midrange jumper. The Lady Eagles went on to run plays for Phan and she came through, scoring 6 points and giving GCA a 14-6 halftime lead. The Lady Torchbearers were nearly shut out in the second quarter before Wendy Tang drilled the team’s lone basket late in the second period.
Then in the third frame, Tina Choi and Phan capitalized on their ceiling and athleticism, as they hustled for rebounds and scored on second-chance opportunities. The duo combined for 7 points in the penultimate quarter, handing GCA a double-digit lead, 21-10, heading into the final canto.
The Lady Torchbearers heated up in the fourth period in an attempt to mount a comeback, as they surpassed their output in the first three quarters in the final canto. Lani Lishoalo banked a trey and made a putback for 5 points, Avelia Yu added 4 markers, and Keziah Garcia willed in an and-1 layup, but couldn’t cash in on the bonus shot.
Despite Agape’s team effort, GCA hung tough and made enough baskets to keep its lead and take the second and last finals berth. Mt. Carmel gained the automatic first finals ticket after topping the regular season.
Meanwhile, Agape came from behind and escaped with a narrow victory over Saipan International School, 35-34, at the Geckos court in As Lito.
Jonathan Xiong and John Chen led the Torchbearers’ rally after firing 12 and 9 points respectively, while Kuu Nishimura recorded 11 markers and A.J. Hudkins scored 9 in the heartbreaking loss for the Geckos.
Agape 1 finished the regular season at fourth place with its 9-5 record, while the Geckos locked themselves at No. 5 team with their 5-7 mark.
Meanwhile, the playoff round in the boys division will begin today at the various courts across the island. Over in Kagman, the top-ranked Ayuyus will face No. 8 ACS Agape 2, while a double-header will be played at the Koblerville Gymnasium with No. 2 MCS 1 battling No. 7 GCA at 3:30pm and No. 3 Saipan Southern High School facing No. 6 MCS 2. Then in Gualo Rai, No. 4 Agape 1 will host SIS.
GCA 28—Phan 18, Choi 6, Nunez 2, Saures 2.
Agape 21—Lishoalo 5, A. Yu 4, Garcia 4, Tang 2, Wu 2, Xu 2, I. Yu 2.
Scoring by quarters: 6-4, 14-6, 21-10, 28-21.