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Christchurch advances to semifinals

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Christchurch School All-State guard Caron Williams drives past St. Christopher’s defender Alex Vozenilek in last week’s 68-36 Seahorse victory at CCS. (Photo by Tom Chillemi)

Christchurch made 17 of 17 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter en route to a rugged 67-54 win over Trinity Episcopal in the quarterfinals of the Virginia Prep League Tournament Tuesday at CCS.

The Seahorses (15-8), ranked seventh in the latest Virginia Independent Schools Division I poll, had to rally from a 19-16 halftime deficit against the upset-minded Trinity squad. The Seahorses scored only 4 points in the second quarter.

The second half was a different story as top-seeded Christchurch outscored Trinity 23-17 in the third quarter and 28-18 in the fourth quarter to seal the win and earn a berth in this Friday’s tournament semifinals at 5:30 p.m. against fifth-seeded Fork Union at Trinity Episcopal in Richmond. The championship game is set for Saturday at Trinity.

Senior All-State guard Caron Williams scored 21 points, including three 3-pointers, and grabbed 10 rebounds to pace the Christchurch win. Sophomore 6’5” forward Mike Gbinjie added 17 points. Williams and Gbinjie combined for 32 second half points.

Freshman guard James Ford had 14 for CCS, senior forward Sam Miller 9, senior point guard Noble Cunningham 4, and junior guard Robert Lawson 2.

Christchurch, under the guidance of head coach Glen Taylor and assistants Don Harris and Ben Thompson, has won three straight Virginia Prep League tournaments heading into this weekend’s action.

Benedictine 79
Christchurch 76

One thing for sure about the Christchurch School basketball team—it plays one of the toughest schedules in the state.

Last Saturday the Seahorses traveled to two-time Division I State Champion Benedictine in Richmond to take on the Cadets (15-9), who are ranked third in this year’s state poll.

The Cadets defeated CCS during the regular season and in the state tournament semifinals the past two years, and last Saturday they rallied to edge the Seahorses again, 79-76.

The Seahorses held a 10-point lead with just over two minutes to play, but were doomed down the stretch by several turnovers and missed shots.

Benedictine star Darien Brothers, who has signed to play at the University of Richmond next year, scored 18 first half points as the Cadets led by three points at the half. Gbinjie and C. Williams both had a strong first half for CCS.

Gbinjie held Brothers to only 2 third quarter points and the Seahorses took a 56-55 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

James Ford and Robert Lawson led a Christchurch surge in the fourth quarter and the Seahorses went up by 10 with just over two minutes to play.

Some poor shot selection and turnovers by CCS allowed Benedictine back into the game, and the Cadets took the lead at 74-72 with under a minute to play. Gbinjie nailed a 3-pointer to put CCS back up 75-74, but the Cadets made some clutch free throws in the final seconds to ice the win.

“This loss will hurt for a long while,” said Christchurch coach Glen Taylor. “However, our club will learn from it. We will get better from it, and yet again we will tip our caps to a Benedictine club that simply would not go away and made a number of huge plays in the final stages of the game.”

Gbinije finished with 24 points, Ford and Williams had 15 each, Noble Cunningham 11, Sam Miller 6, and Lawson 5.

For more on Christchurch basketball, visit http://www.christchurchschool.org.

posted 02.19.2009

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