Gilbert Christian exits Div. III as repeat champs

Gilbert Christian exits Div. III as repeat champs

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Gilbert Christian exits Div. III as repeat champs

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GLENDALE — After Gilbert Christian’s final show of force — a 60-48 victory over Chandler Valley Christian to give Gilbert Christian its second consecutive state championship and third in the past four years — the rest of Division III can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Saturday’s win at Jobing.com Arena will be the last for Gilbert Christian in that classification. The school moves up to Division II next season.

But that didn’t stop its players and coaches from soaking up every last bit of the experience.

“Just tons of emotions I can’t even put into words,” Gilbert Christian coach Jerome Joseph said. “We set our goal, and we had the opportunity to accomplish it tonight, and we did.”

It was clear from the start that No.2 Gilbert Christian (31-3) had the advantage over No.9 Valley Christian (23-10), as Gilbert Christian never trailed. It got off to a 15-8 advantage after the first quarter, thanks to a trio of 3-pointers by senior guard Dylan Bliss.

Bliss added another 3-pointer in the second quarter and finished with 13 points.

“Honestly, I haven’t had a great shooting year other than the playoffs,” Bliss said. “I’ve just been putting a lot work in, shooting hundreds of shots a day, and it finally paid off.”

Junior guard Roberto Reyes led all scorers with 17 points and added six assists. Junior center T.J. Widner scored 14 to lead Valley Christian.

Gilbert Christian’s starting lineup consisted of four juniors this season, with Bliss the only senior, so it has a good chance to be strong again next year.

Division II, you’re now on notice.

“We look forward to the challenge,” Joseph said. “We want to be there and compete at a high level, so we welcome that, and that’s what we’re about.”

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