RENO — Without Diontea Wright, Faith Lutheran’s boys basketball team couldn’t separate itself from Dayton.
But with the senior post player on the floor in the second half, it was all Crusaders.
After playing less than three minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, Wright scored 14 of his game-high 18 points after halftime to lead Faith Lutheran to a 59-40 win over the Dust Devils at Lawlor Events Center for its fourth consecutive Class 3A state title.
“I picked up three quick ones, but I couldn’t let it get to me because this team needed me to come out and help them,” Wright said. “I had to just get back in and play smart.”
The Crusaders (23-8) led
26-25 at halftime but pounded the ball inside to the 6-foot-4-inch Wright and 6-2 freshman Brett Lubbe in the third quarter. The duo combined for 14 points and five rebounds in the quarter as Faith Lutheran stretched its lead to 41-32.
“We pretty much had them oversized,” Wright said. “We knew they couldn’t handle us big men, so we just kept taking it to them.”
Senior Conner Maloney, who was a part of all four state championship teams, said Wright’s presence on the floor was important.
“It’s huge. He’s an important focal point of our team,” Maloney said. “He mixes it up inside and can hit the 15-foot jumper. And he’s just … athleticism.”
Wright’s offensive presence was key, but Faith Lutheran coach Bret Walter credited his team’s defense for the turnaround.
“He got a few rebounds and put-backs,” Walter said of Wright. “But that wasn’t the difference in the defense. It’s not like he was out there dominating defensively. It was just a more solid effort defensively.”
Dayton, which lost to the Crusaders for the fourth straight year in the title game, was 6-for-23 from the field in the second half. Tannar Wood scored 12 first-half points for the Dust Devils but was held to a free throw in the second half.
“Coach came in at halftime and preached defense,” Maloney said. “He just told us to keep running and pushing it inside.”
Senior Mike Amico added 11 points, and Lubbe had 10 points and seven rebounds off the bench for Faith Lutheran. Maloney was 2-for-10 from the field but had nine rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocked shots.
“Conner, I’m real proud of him,” Walter said. “We’ve played 120-some games together, and I’m just real proud of him. He played real hard this weekend, and he’s well deserving of all the accolades he’s gotten through winning four championships.
“He’s always just been real versatile, and he’s been able to do a lot of different things.”
• Yerington 46, Truckee (Calif.) 30 — Kayla Lommori had 16 points and 21 rebounds to spark Yerington to the Class 3A title.
The Wolverines didn’t have an answer for 6-footers Lommori and Karrie-Ann Quartz inside.
Quartz added 13 points and seven rebounds, and the duo outrebounded Truckee by themselves. The Lions had a 47-22 rebound advantage.
Kiara Ross added 10 points for Yerington. Freshman Megan Shalvis led Truckee with eight points.
Contact reporter Damon Seiters at email@example.com or (702) 380-4587.