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Published: Wednesday, 3/24/2004

Tri-unity shines at line to beat Lenawee Christian


JACKSON, Mich. - Lenawee Christian and Wyoming Tri-unity Christian pummeled each other from behind the arc, but Tri-unity knocked out the Cougars at the foul line last night in a Michigan Class D quarterfinal.

After catching top-ranked Lenawee Christian (25-1) early in the fourth quarter, the eighth-ranked Defenders (20-5) put them away by going 14-of-16 at the free throw line in the fourth quarter of a 57-48 victory that sends them to the final four at Michigan State s Breslin Center for the fourth time.

It was quite a turnaround from the first half, when Wil White knocked down three 3-pointers around another by freshman Austin Porter as Lenawee Christian scored 12 straight points to take a 29-16 lead. But even then, Tri-unity s Andrew Gallas nailed a 3 to close the halftime deficit to 29-19. Lenawee Christian had hit 6 of 15 shots from 3-point range and was 10-of-24 from the field.

Porter hit another three and the Cougars led by 13 on the first basket of the third quarter, at 5:36 to play. From there, the Defenders scored 10 of the next 14 points and the momentum was theirs.

“We did a pretty good job of keeping the ball out of Gallas hands,” Lenawee Christian coach Jim Brown said, “but in the scrambles they got the ball to shooters in the second half. In the first half, we got the ball to shooters.”

Another difference was the stepped-up play of 6-6 Tri-unity sophomore Andy Venema, who had been stymied in the first half by the defense of 6-2 sophomore forward Chris Shiels. But Venema grabbed his team s first four rebounds in the second half and scored five of his seven points. When the third quarter ended Lenawee Christian still led 36-32.

But Tri-unity scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter - Marcus Ritsema s first 3-pointer giving the Defenders their first lead since halfway into the first quarter, his second giving them a 40-36 lead with 5:02 left.

“We decided to come out and play defense,” Tri-unity coach Mark Keeler said. “I thought we played awesome defense in the second half. That was the key.”

Lenawee Christian s Bry Mansfield stole the ball and took it all the way back for a layup to score the Cougars first basket of the final quarter with 4:01 remaining. But they would never catch Tri-unity again as it hit 11 of 12 free throws in the final 2:17 and got a big 3-pointer from Gallas.

“I have a lot of confidence in our shooters at the line,” Keeler said. “I say, Please foul us. ”

White led Lenawee Christian with 14 points and Scott Glazer added 13, 12 rebounds, a couple assists and a block. Porter finished with 10 points and Shiels nine.

Jeremy Voorhees, who scored seven of Tri-unity s nine points in the first quarter, finished with a game-high 21 and 11 rebounds. Ritsema added 12 and Gallas had 11.

Contact Craig Mantey at: cmantey@theblade.com or 419-724-6110.

Morenci senior Aaron McClue was named to the Class C All-Michigan team yesterday. The 6-3 forward led Lenawee County at 23.5 points per game in the regular season and averaged 7.5 rebounds.

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