Behind the hot three-pointing shooting of RD Lutze, Aurora Christian blitzed the Newark Norsemen for an early 12-0 lead. Although never getting closer than six points the rest of the way, Newark fought back before succumbing 62-53.
Jonathan Harell (six assists) found Lutze twice and Zach Singer once in the lane for scores in the early surge.
“The team was finding me every single time and making really good passes. I had open shots and was hitting them,” said Lutze, who had 25 points on 9-of -18 from the field, including 5-of-9 from three.
It became the Singer show in the second period as he knocked two down from long-range and converted a layup assisted by Pat McNamara, who also finished with six assists. When Grant Schweisthal (13 points) scored twice from close range near the end of the half, the Eagles had what seemed a comfortable 35-18 advantage.
“We found RD when he was hot, and I started going a little bit, so they found me,” said Singer, who finished with 16 points. “We stuck together as a team to get the win.”
The Norsemen switched to a man-to-man defense in the second half, but also came alive on offense. Jack Clausel used his 6-6 frame working low, and Matt Eike (18 points) dropped in a trey and two jump shots to help Newark whittle the margin to 47-40 to begin the fourth.
Schweisthal scored three times (two on putbacks) early in the fourth, but Will Clausel (14 points) slashed aggressively to the hoop three times as Christian could not put the Norsemen away.
But the Eagles dealt with the Newark press and made 7-of-9 free throws in the final minute to clinch the win.
“We moved the ball down the court (against the press), got it to me in the middle, and didn’t dribble it but passed it off which was really good.” said Singer.
Aurora Christian will play No. 1 seed Ottawa in the semifinals.