GLENDALE — Sam Jones, Dylan Bliss and Roberto Reyes have the state championship rings, but it was Gilbert Christian’s unsung player who helped advace the top-ranked team into the Division III boys basketball championship game.
Guard Keaton Ranger scored his team’s first 10 points, including two 3-pointers, in the first 3½ minutes of the second half, leading Gillbert Christian to a 67-57 semifinal victory Friday at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale.
Gilbert Christian (30-3) plays at 6 tonight against Chandler Valley Christian for a chance to win its second consecutive state championship.
Ranger, a 6-foot-3 junior who wasn’t part of last year’s championship run, finished with a game-high 21 points on nine of 11 shooting, including making all three of his 3-point tries. He also had a team-best seven rebounds.
Ranger helped Gilbert Christian get through a long stretch in the second half with the team’s top scorer, 6-foot-7 Jones, on the bench in foul trouble.
Ranger made Gilbert Christian’s first six points in the final quarter after Scottsdale Christian cut it to 50-47.
Jones didn’t return until 4:13 was left and his team leading 56-47.
“He’s a good scorer,” coach Jerome Joseph said. “He’s a little streaky, But at the same time, when he gets going, obviously he can make some shots.”
Scottsdale Christian shot only 35.7 percent in the second half after hanging tough with Gilbert Christian in the first half, battling back in the second quarter to cut it to one after trailing by seven.
Guard Jared Frame led Scottsdale Christian with 15 points. He was three for eight behind the arc.
“We had a couple of good runs, and we took a little bit of a lead with Jones out, but we weren’t able to sustain it,” Scottsdale Christian coach Bob Fredericks said. “They’re not only talented players, but they’re smart basketball players who take advatange of situations well enough.”