After a competitive start, Tacoma Baptist held Seattle Lutheran scoreless for over seven minutes in the second quarter and never looked back, cruising to a 50-29 win over the Saints to earn a trip to the state regionals. Dayton Pascua led the way for the Crusaders, hitting three three-pointers and finishing with a game-high 23 points – including 16 in the first half.
“It felt good,” said Pascua of his shot. “It’s just good to stay in rhythm with the offense and let it come to you.”
Pascua hit three early baskets to put the Crusaders up 8-2, but Seattle Lutheran came back to cut it to 10-9 at the end of the first. Pascua then hit back-to-back three-pointers early in the second quarter to kick-start a 14-0 run, as the Saints didn’t score their first basket of the period until Grant Doerr’s layup with 57 seconds left.
“We switched to a triangle-and-two (defense) in the second quarter, and it really seemed to discombobulate them for a few minutes and gave us the push we needed to get out ahead,” said Tacoma Baptist head coach Eric Sivertson.
The lead kept growing in the third quarter, as Pascua made it 35-15 with another three midway through the period and added a couple more inside jumpers later. The Crusaders’ defense, meanwhile, was dominant on the glass, as they consistently limited the Saints to one-shot possessions and finished with 35 rebounds as a team.
“We have some really good motors on our team,” said Pascua, who added seven rebounds and three steals to his point total. “Coach did a really good job of ingraining in our heads to play good, solid defense. Give them one shot, box out and rebound. That’s what we did, we stuck to our game plan and did a great job.”
Brandon Stoehr finished with 10 points, six rebounds and three steals for the Crusaders, while Dalton Wintersole had seven points and seven rebounds and Drew Jordan had four points and a team-high eight rebounds. Doerr led Seattle Lutheran with eight points, while Saints leading scorer Abijah Smith – who averages 15 points per game – was limited to just three points, including none in the second half.
The win sets the Crusaders up with a regional matchup at Mark Morris High School on Feb. 23 at 4 p.m., with the opponent still to be decided.
Sivertson noted the regional berth shows how far the program has come in a short time. “We were 1-18 two years ago,” he said. “To be in the final 16 teams playing, with a chance to go to state, is a big deal for us. We’ve worked really hard to earn it.”