Statistically, Phoenix Arizona Lutheran is not exactly the best 3-point shooting team around, but you wouldn’t know that by the way the No. 2 seed played Thursday.
“Hey, when you’re hot, you’re hot,” senior Eric Trevizo said.
Arizona Lutheran hit eight 3-pointers in the second half, clawing its way out of an early deficit to defeat defending champion No. 7 Glendale Joy Christian 69-64 in the Division IV quarterfinals at Tim’s Toyota Center.
Arizona Lutheran will face No. 6 St. Johns on Friday in the semifinals.
Despite defeating Joy Christian 83-48 in the regular season, Arizona Lutheran coach Doug Meyer said he knew this game would be tough.
“We knew it would be a dog fight all the way till the end,” Meyer said.
After trailing by 10 at halftime, Arizona Lutheran took its first lead of the game late in the fourth quarter. The team led by eight points with just over a minute remaining, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Joy Christian’s Taliq Medley and Cody Nicely made it a two-point game with 30 seconds left to go. Arizona Lutheran sealed the win on free throws, capturing the victory without its leading scorer Kris Lamberson, who had fouled out late in the fourth quarter.
“With Kris fouling out a lot of people stepped up … making free throws down the stretch and hustling for loose balls,” Trevizo said. “And seeing as I’m the only other senior starter, I just felt like it was my duty to step up.”
Trevizo had 15 points and 10 in the second half. Brady Cook had 16 points and Lamberson had 13.
Arizona Lutheran has lost in the championship game two years in a row, so Meyer said there is added pressure on his players this season.
“There’s a lot of weight on these guys, and that’s hard because we’ve been here twice in a row and we haven’t won,” he said. “And I don’t care who you are, that’s a tough burden to bear.”
But the team doesn’t dwell on the past. In fact, the players rarely even speak of it. The focus, Trevizo said, has all been on the future.
“This year,” he said. “I just hope we can come through with the win.”