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Crusaders well rehearsed for title win

Faith Lutheran’s girls basketball team started the week with a win over Virgin Valley.

It was perfect preparation for a Division I-A Southern League championship.

The Crusaders used zone defenses to push Boulder City outside, and took advantage of a boatload of missed shots and turnovers to beat Boulder City 48-36 in the league title game Saturday at Sunrise Mountain.

Both teams advance to the state tournament, which begins Friday at Del Sol.

“They’re a team very similar to Virgin Valley as far as having a good inside- and outside-shooting team,” said Faith Lutheran coach Jennifer Karner, whose team was a 47-39 winner over Virgin Valley on Tuesday. “That’s what we prepared for. We just tried to get up in their face and show them what our defense really is.”

Boulder City shot just 10-for-44 from the field, including 4-for-21 in the second half. The Eagles were 1 of 16 on 3-pointers and committed 29 turnovers.

“We didn’t come to play,” Boulder City coach Kirk Frantz said. “I think we were thinking about the next game. None of these girls have ever been in this situation where they knew they were advancing and had to play another game. They came out flat and stayed that way for all but about two minutes.”

Julia Benko’s transition basket with 2:47 left in the first half gave the Crusaders a 22-8 lead. Boulder City, which stayed close by making 15 of 21 free throws, got within 26-23 during the third quarter, but never got over the hump.

Benko led Faith Lutheran (19-8) with 15 points. Dani Tharaldson and Sam Leonard each scored 11 for the Crusaders, who won their first postseason title since 2006.

“We’ve got a lot of leaders on the court,” Karner said. “We don’t have to rely on one person.”

Mallory Bird had 11 points for Boulder City (18-7). Whitney Barlow added 10 points before fouling out with 1:56 to go in the third quarter.

Contact reporter Bartt Davis at bdavis@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5230.

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