LANSING – The first quarter proved to be a slow start for Lansing Christian on Monday in a Class D regional semifinal against Morenci, but the Pilgrims’ wealth of postseason experience kicked into overdrive after the initial eight minutes.
A 14-8 lead became a rout as the Pilgrims outscored Morenci 37-3 over the next two quarters to win 60-22 and advance to tomorrow’s regional final against Plymouth Christian.
“This senior class has been together since elementary school, so we’ve always had that next one up mentality and to push through,” senior guard Forrest Bouyer said after finishing with 15 points to lead the Pilgrims. “We’ve been denied two times at the regional final game so this one feels good and we’ll go into the regional final game feeling comfortable and we’ll have to push through like we always do.”
Waterford Our Lady knocked off Lansing Christian last year in the regional final round on its way to finishing second in the state in Class D. The Pilgrims will play Plymouth Christian in this year’s regional final on their home court after Plymouth Christian defeated Hillsdale Academy 53-46 in Monday’s first game.
Lansing Christian (17-6) charged ahead 12-2 in the first quarter of the second game with Bouyer notching five quick points on a 3-pointer, steal and lay-in.
But Morenci, which entered the game under .500 overall, connected on two 3-pointers from senior Mason Vaughn to pull within six at the end of the opening quarter.
“Morenci did a really good job of hitting shots early. We didn’t get out on a couple really good 3-point shooters early in the first,” Lansing Christian coach Chris Mustaine said. “Once we did a better job rotating to those shooters, things started to happen for us.”
One of four four-year varsity players for Lansing Christian, Bouyer lit up the scoreboard in the second quarter with 10 points, including two threes, as the Pilgrims went on a 21-3 spurt and led by 24 at half.
Morenci’s shots continued to avoid the net in the second half as Lansing Christian held the Bulldogs scoreless over the course of the third quarter and into the fourth before Tyler VanBrandt made a 3-pointer with 6:45 left in the game.
The Pilgrims made looks inside difficult with the size of 6-foot-6 senior post player Preston Granger, who added nine points for Lansing Christian. Junior Andrew Prieskorn chipped in with 10 points for the Pilgrims as nine of 10 Lansing Christian players tallied points.
“It’s been a fun week and a half. We’ve been waiting for games that really matter,” Mustaine said. “That’s a great motivator and a great focuser and it’s been really fun to watch them kind of come together and say now is the time and if we want to do what we want to do, we’ve got to put it together right now.”