SANFORD — Lee Christian went through a familiar rival, neighboring rival Grace Christian, to advance to the NCISAA 1A state final four Friday night, winning the quarterfinal game at home 60-44.
The No. 2-seeded (1A West Region) Lady Falcons topped No. 3 Grace Christian for the fourth time this season and the second time in a week’s span just after Lee Christian’s conference tournament final win last week. Lee Christian’s defense was too tough, especially out of the gates as the Lady Falcons led 10-4 four minutes into the game and 19-7 at the end of the first quarter.
It took only a couple minutes for the Lady Falcons to bring in the bench, with Emma Lodge and Kelyce McSwain providing immediate help in what was already a fast start.
Lodge hit a three from the left wing, then one from the opposite side, as part of taking the Lady Falcon lead to 14-4. Lodge and McSwain combined for 13 points in the first quarter and 18 in the first half. The post duo of McSwain and starting center Taylor Woods powered the Lady Falcons offensively and defensively.
Grace Christian chipped back within single digits a few times in the second and third quarters, but the Lady Falcons had a run to answer each time.
Lodge and Reily Johnson turned fast breaks off turnovers into buckets, then Johnson took a steal from a trap in for a lay-in and the quick six points made it 42-25 Lee Christian late in the third quarter. The Lady Falcons led 46-29 going to the fourth quarter.
Lodge finished with 19 points to lead Lee Christian (14-5) which advances to a state semifinal game Tuesday night. Woods had 12 points and 10 rebounds. McSwain had nine points and 10 rebounds. Jordan Langston had seven points and four assists.
Lara Lieckfeld led the Lady Crusaders with 22 points. Kaleigh Wilson and Anna Strickland scored seven points each.