Two things had to go right for Christian Liberty on Tuesday night in Grace Gymnasium.
First, the Chargers had to devise away to stop one of the state’s leading scorers, Randy Hewitt. And second, Christian Liberty needed to get off to a quick start.
The Chargers broke out to a 13-8 lead after one quarter and 34-16 at halftime to put away the No. 6-seeded Griffins 67-41. The Class 1A regional win puts the No. 3 Chargers against the No. 2-seeded Ida Crown Aces from Chicago in a Thursday matchup.
Hewitt scored 20 points and pulled down 8 rebounds. He scored just 4 points in the first half.
“Christian Liberty had a great defensive game plan,” said Roycemore coach Justin Welke. “No one this year has stopped (Hewitt) like that. They just went with a triangle with two chasers on him. When you hold a scorer like him down, it’s hard to get points from other players.”
Junior forward Paul Weiss, on the other hand, helped jump start Christian Liberty (11-15) by scoring 9 points in the first quarter; he had 13 of his 18 in the first half. Weiss also pulled down 9 of the team’s 30 rebounds.
“We’ve struggled at times trying to get quick starts,” said Weiss. “Tonight we pushed the ball. We hit our shots, got to the rim and got some nice fastbreak baskets. Everything was clicking. Aaron Cunningham played a great game for us. He’s almost 300 pounds but he has quick feet and really set some good screens. He makes it hard for people to get around him.” Cunningham posted his second-ever double-figure game, with 11 points and 2 blocked shots. Nick Solomonson added 13 points and 7 rebounds.
The Chargers led the Griffins (6-12) 16-10 early in the second quarter. A 12-0 run, though, made the score 28-10 and then a 6-0 run made the score 34-14 just before the break.
Solomonson had 6 points in athe well balanced runs.
“We had a great week of practice and the kids responded to the new things we put in,” said Christian Liberty coach Jed Bennett. “We had to keep tabs on Hewiit and (Noah) Snyder. They hurt us last time we played them a few weeks ago. Weiss stepped up tonight. He had been in a little scoring drought. But he’s one of our scorers and he came through for us.
The second quarter was key for us. We played really good defense and we got long rebounds which led to fastbreak points.”
“We think we have a good chance against Ida Crown Thursday,” said Weiss. “I think we might have a size advantage inside. We have to be able to stop their shooting guards.”