The No. 2 state-ranked Highlanders improve to 19-5 and advance to the GISA Class AA state finals in the same gym today at 5 p.m. while No. 3 state-ranked Griffin Christian's season ends with a 25-8 record.
GC played its first game without junior guard Wil Savage, who was out with a broken wrist. Despite the loss of Savage, GC started the game on fire, scoring the game's first seven points. FPCA was unfazed, going on a 14-0 run to lead 14-7 at the 3:40 mark of the first quarter. The Crusaders then embarked on an 8-4 run to cut the lead to 18-15 heading into the second quarter.
In a game of runs, FPCA started the second on an 8-0 run to push the lead to 26-15. Aaron McCray's 3-point play cut the Highlanders lead to 26-20, but FPCA outscored the Crusaders 13-7 over the next five minutes to take a 39-27 lead into the half.
FPCA's Herbert Brooks scored eight points in the third and GC missed a few free throws which allowed the Highlanders to get their biggest lead of the game at 50-31 with 5:17 left in the period. The Crusaders didn't give up, however, mounting a comeback to get within 13 at 53-40 thanks to a McCray 3-pointer. FPCA got hot again and pushed its lead to 18 at 60-42, but Jonathan Hammond made a layup and Amir Hightower sank two straight treys to cut the lead to 60-49 heading into the final stanza.
The Crusaders got the deficit to single digits early in the fourth quarter at 62-53, but that was as close at GC would get. FPCA would go on another run to get back in double digits and basically seal the game. GC, which missed 8 free throws in the game, got no closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
Brooks led all scorers with 26 points, followed by Tevin Womack with 17, Chris Guilfo with 11 and Ahman Muhammad with 10 points for FPCA. Hammond led GC with 21 points, 2 assists and 2 rebounds, McCray added 20 points and Hightower chipped in 16 points, 4 assists and 6 rebounds. Hunter Ott also snagged 5 boards for GC.