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Northwest Christian boys take another step

Northwest Christian continued its drive for a third consecutive state championship Saturday as it knocked off the St. George’s Dragons 59-48 in the District 7 2B playoffs at Spokane Falls Community College.

The game started slowly, and the halftime score favored NWC (21-1) 24-23.

Matt Zanbergen was a bright spot for the Crusaders and he took advantage of St. George’s post Wyatt Orme’s absence during the first quarter because of foul trouble. Zanbergen used his 6-foot-4 frame and an arsenal of moves in the low block to score eight points in the first quarter.

But the game was made exciting thanks to a matchup between two prolific scorers. NWC’s Chase Ramey and the Dragons’ Henry Butler guarded each other during stretches of the game and each paced their team with 22 points.

“Those two guards battling it out brought out the best in each other,” NWC coach Ray Ricks said.

But it was Ramey who ultimately made the difference and he overcame a lingering illness to score eight points during a critical 10-0 run in the third frame for the Crusaders. NWC tied its first-half total with 24 points in the quarter and never surrendered the lead.

“That run was really the difference,” Ricks said. “Chase Ramey took over in the second half.”

With a little more than a minute left in the third, Ramey hit a pair of 3-pointers within 32 seconds to decimate St. George’s (20-3) and open up a 10-point lead by the end of the quarter.

“I wasn’t really thinking about it,” Ramey said in reference to the scoring spurt.

“He hit some big shots that really took away our momentum,” said Butler, who chipped in five points during the third quarter but could not find much other help on offense. St. George’s struggled to find a rhythm, and the Dragons went scoreless for the final 2:29 of the third quarter.

It was NWC’s turn to fall flat in the fourth quarter, and the Crusaders could not find the bottom of the net during the first 5:32 of the fourth quarter. But when Jared Descoteaux eventually scored with 2:28 remaining, St. George’s trailed 50-41.

In the ensuing few seconds, St. George’s threatened to gain control as Butler capped a 5-0 run with a three-point play and 2:14 left in regulation. NWC called for a timeout about 40 seconds later and regained their composure.

“I probably should have called a timeout earlier,” Ricks said.

With the win, the Crusaders will advance to the District 7/9 regional and face fourth-seeded Lind Ritzville, a team they have already squared off against twice this year.

“Lind-Ritzville is a very well-disciplined team,” Ricks said. “It will be a classic half-court battle.”

Wellpinit 61, Selkirk 44: Wellpinit (15-9) earned the fifth seed to regionals with the victory and eliminated the Rangers (13-11). TJ Flett led the way for the Redskins with 18 points, 11 rebounds and seven steals.

Reardan 55, Lind-Ritzville 37: Ryan Schulz scored a team-high 12 points and dished seven assists to help Reardan (20-3) earn the third seed at regionals. Mike Matson added 11 points and six rebounds. Tyler Moos also had six rebounds for the Indians. The Broncos, who earned the No. 4 seed, are 18-5.