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Les Willsey

Staff Writer,

Gilbert Christian boys win Christian Cup hoops tournament

Dec 8, 2012

Gilbert Christian was looking for a challenge from the field in the 2nd annual Christian Cup Boys Basketball Tournament and the state's defending Division III champs got it. 

After getting pushed by Valley Christian in Friday night's semifinals (a 65-59 win), Gilbert Christian outscored Santa Fe Christian (Solana Beach, Calif.,) 13-4 in the final 3 minutes and 42 seconds. That allowed the Knights to post a 71-62 victory over the Eagles  to win the tourney championship at Gilbert Christian High.

Gilbert Christian improved to 7-0 for the year and proved in this one they could not only win against quality competition, but come from way back to do it. Gilbert Christian trailed 48-39 with 9:22 left in the game. The final result meant an 18-point swing. Santa Fe, playing its first three games of the season,dropped to 2-1.

Leading for the way for Gilbert Christian was guard Roberto Reyes (game-high 25 points) and forward Sam Jones (16 points). Jones sank a three with 2:05 left in the game to his team ahead for good, 63-61. After Santa Fe's steady point guard Justin Byrd (20 points) fouled out on a charge with 1:45 to play, Reyes connected on his third three of the night to make it 66-61 with 1:21 left. Reyes and Jones made five free throws between them in the final 42 seconds to seal the victory.

Gilbert Christian began its rally with 7:20 left after coach Jerome Joseph called time to spell out the scenario for his team.

"I told them we needed defensive stops and rebounds, we couldn't afford to trade baskets," Joseph said. "They had two players that were hurting us, and that's where are concenration was."

Byrd acutally went to the bench with 8:01 left with his fourth foul and was out for about three minutes. Byrd and forward Grant Corsi, who scored all 32 of Santa Fe's first-half points and combined to finish with 48 of the Eagles' 62, were the focus. Byrd and Corsi tallied just five points in the final four minutes. 

"This showed me our resiliency and that we won't give up," Joseph said. "They are motivated to continue fighting no matter what."

Even during a stretch when Gilbert Christian wasn't knocking down many threes, the Knights continued to fire them up. They made nine -- six in the second half. Guard Dylan Bliss and Reyes sank three apiece and Keaton Ranger connected on two.

"We generally are a good shooting team," Joseph said. "That's our bread and butter."

Reyes and Jones were named to the all-tournament team as were Corsi and Byrd for Santa Fe. Rounding out the squad selected by the tournament's eight coaches were Brethern Christian's 7-foot 5 center Mamadou Ndiaye, a UC-Irvine commitment, Lynden Christian's Isaac Reimer and Briarcrest Christian forward Austin Nichols, who was chosen tourney most valuable player. NIchols signed to attend Memphis a couple weeks ago as its top recruit.