The South Hope Christian School basketball and volleyball squads secured spots in the Athletics for Christian Education League semifinals with last week’s quarterfinal playoff wins.

Both South Hope teams advanced to last year’s state championship event in Skowhegan, with the volleyball team winning a fourth straight state crown.

With quarterfinal wins Feb. 19, both South Hope teams will play in the semifinals on Saturday, Feb. 27 at the Calvary Baptist Church in Turner. The Royal basketball team will face Midcoast rival Coastal Christian School of Waldoboro at 4:30 p.m., while the Royal volleyball squad will meet Grace Baptist School of Portland, the No. 1 team in the South, at 3 p.m.

In basketball, the Coastal Christian School Rams surprised many by besting the No. 1 South Division team, the Swordsmen of Calvary Christian Academy, in the quarterfinals to earn a spot against South Hope in the semifinals.

Quarterfinal action

On Feb. 19, Sam Pease scored 28 points and Scott Marshall chipped in 11 to lead South Hope Christian to a 60-42 victory over the Grace Baptist School Lions of Portland.

The win capped a double victory by the Royal basketball and volleyball teams in the quarterfinal round. The Royal volleyball team is 12-0 this season and has won 85 straight matches and four straight state crowns — winning 73 consecutive matches en route to those first four state titles.

In the volleyball match, the first-place Royals of the North Division faced the Eagles of Oxford Hills Christian Academy, the fourth-place team of the South Division. The matchup was somewhat leveled by the fact that Royals’ starter Taylor Brown had sprained her ankle a few days before, and was wearing a brace. However, she gamely hobbled onto the court to play the match.

The Royals built an early 6-2 lead but lost the ball on a center line violation by Kaitlyn Kee. On the next point, with Sara Holbrook serving, indecision between Darcy Finnemore and Tanya Brown gave the point to the Eagles, and suddenly it was 6-4. But a Kee spike got the ball back, and with Tanya Brown serving three straight points, the Royals expanded their lead to 10-4.

The Royals maintained their lead for several points, and at 17-10, Finnemore took the ball and served six straight points. At 23-10, she appeared poised to serve out the game. However, the next serve was drilled into the net to give the Eagles the opportunity to mount a comeback from 23-11.

With Rachel Marston serving, that is exactly what the Oxford Hills’ squad did, causing Royals’ Coach Fawn Adolphsen to call a timeout with the score 23-15. The pep talk appeared to have little effect, as Marston served up three more points for the Eagles. However, her next serve found the net. Savannah Adolphsen took the ball for the Royals at 24-18. Her serve was good, and a tip over the net by Kee won the point and the game.

The second game saw a determined Oxford Hills team fight tooth and nail to maintain a slim lead in the early going. But with the Royals trailing 17-16, South Hope’s Rachel Pease won the point with a spike, and took the ball to service line. She then proceeded to serve five straight points with help from the Eagles, who returned one serve into the net, and Brown, who tapped the ball over the net for a winner. But the Eagles won the next point, and it was now 22-18 in favor of the Royals. With Tegan Theriault serving, the Eagles took the next point, and perspiration began to build on the Royals fans’ collective brows.

However, the next point was taken by the Royals on Brown’s spike and Finnemore took the ball at the service line at 23-19. But the next point was lost to the Eagles, and the jitters continued for the Royal blue and gold.

Once again, the Royals got the ball back, and the ball went to Alexandra Sukeforth to serve at 24-20. A timeout was called by Eagles coach Howie Munday in an apparent attempt to ice the server. But serve was good, and the Oxford Hills squad set up for a spike by Rachel Marston, whose attempt hit the net, giving South Hope the point and the match. Royals fans heaved a collective sigh of relief as their  girls had survived a strong challenge to advance to the semifinals.

In the basketball game, the Lions quickly fashioned a 14-9 first-quarter lead on the strength of Randy Breen’s two 3-pointers and Zachary Balfour’s three field goals. It was looking as if the Royals had their work cut out for them.

And go to work they did. Sam Pease and Nathan Young began to draw Portland fouls and sink the free throws. That alone accounted for eight points as the Royals went on a 16-5 run and led 25-19 at halftime.

The third quarter saw the South Hope squad outscore the Lions 14-9 to expand its lead to 39-28  Marshall scored seven points to lead the Royals in that frame, while Balfour scored all nine for Portland.

Foul shots told the story in the final period, as Pease and Marshall went a combined 8-for-10 at the line in the stanza, and the Royals outscored the Lions once again, 21-14.

In the game, the Royals made 20-of-27 free throws (74 percent), while the Lions were 3-of-9 (33 percent).

Other scorers for South Hope were Nathan Young with seven points; Caleb Pease and Mike Kee, both six; and Sam Wadsworth, two.

Scoring for the Lions were Balfour with 21 points; Jed Merrill, 11; Breen, eight; and Andrey St. Ours, two.

Final regular-season games

On Feb. 12, Billy Ray Denman and Burt Ludwig scored 31 points and 30 points respectively as the defending champion South Liberty Pioneers defeated the South Hope Royals 102-67.

South Liberty led 29-13, 57-36 and 80-48 at the quarter breaks.

Also scoring for South Liberty were Malcolm Wadsworth with 17 points; Alex Giguere, 14; Nathan Garnett, six; and Ben Daggett, four.

Royals’ scorers were Sam Pease with 22 points; Caleb Pease, 20; Young, 10; Marshall and Wadsworth, six apiece; and Kee, three.

In the first half, Malcolm Wadsworth joined the scoring and was hard pressed to miss a basket accounting for 15 points in the first half.

Denman and Ludwig also scored 14 to open up a comfortable 57-36 margin at halftime.

The Royals’ principle answer was Sam Pease, who notched 14 points for the half. However, despite his efforts the team could not keep up with their opponents.

The South Liberty barrage continued in the third quarter as Denman and company outpaced the Royals 23-12 in that frame to build an 80-48 lead.

In volleyball action, South Hope defeated the South Liberty Pioneers  25-14 and 25-18.

Sherwood Young contributed to this story.

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