Grace Christian wins in OT, makes state semis
MATTHEWS - Brooke Strickland's three-point play with 0:31 left in overtime gave Grace Christian a two-point lead and the Lady Crusaders (29-3) went on to a 59-56 victory over Statesville Christian in a quarterfinal of the NCISAA 1A State Tournament Thursday afternoon at Covenant Day School.
No. 2-seeded Grace Christian advances to this evening's semifinals. The Lady Crusaders will face the winner of No. 3 Oakwood vs. No. 6 Cresset Christian at 5 p.m. at Covenant Day.
Statesville Christian (11-10), No. 7 seed in the tournament, tied the game with a three-point play with less than a minute left in regulation, making it 53-53.
Statesville had to rally after the Lady Crusaders trailed by eight early in the fourth quarter and fought back.
Kaycee Murr hit two three-pointers and Alexis Ross hit a three to lead Grace Christian's comeback.
"That was huge. I thought that was the key to the game," said Grace Christian head coach Joel Murr.
"Then (Statesville) had to come out of the triangle-and-two they were playing on Brooke and Anna (Murr)," Murr said.
It was the second straight game Kaycee Murr hit two three-pointers at a key time, giving her side scoring the opposing defense wasn't ready for. She did the same in Grace's conference championship win over Cresset Christian last week.
Taking Statesville out of the trick defense on Grace's top two scorers let Strickland and Anna Murr get more space for drives to the basket late in the fourth period and in overtime, said coach Murr.
Statesville led 56-55 until Strickland's hoop and free throw put Grace in front.
"It was huge, a great drive to the basket," Joel Murr said. "We tried to spread them out some knowing Brooke is our best player capable of getting to the basket."
Strickland led the Lady Crusaders with 24 points. Anna Murr had 14 points and Ross scored 11 points. Strickland and Anna Murr combined to make 10-of-14 free throws.
The championship game of the tournament is slated for Saturday at 10 a.m. at Providence Day School in Charlotte.
Other tournament scores Thursday night -
Triton 60, North Lenoir 58 - Eastern Carolina semifinal
Jordan-Matthews 63, Graham 39 - Mid-State semifinal
Pinecrest 47, Lumberton 30 - Southeastern semifinal