MANHATTAN — Just as it did in its quarterfinal, Berean Academy came out strong Friday night, holding Salina Sacred Heart to 18.8-percent shooting in the first half and taking a 29-13 halftime lead.
Only this time, the Warriors were back to their customary balanced attack in disposing of Salina Sacred Heart 58-47 in a Class 2A boys semifinal at Bramlage Coliseum.
Berean (24-1) will face Pittsburg Colgan (22-3) at 6:15 tonight in the final.
Berean cruised comfortably through the first three quarters, and when its lead reached 20 points (47-27) with 3:09 left, the Warriors reserves entered. But Sacred Heart didn’t quit and outscored Berean 20-11 the rest of the way. Jacob Vandevoort’s second three-pointer of the game just before the buzzer made the margin a little closer.
“It feels good (to be in the final),” Berean coach Lewis Wiebe said. “It’s been awhile.”
Wiebe said he felt his defense was better than against Lyndon in the quarterfinals.
“Sometimes, teams have off nights and don’t shoot the ball well, but I thought we did a good job on their three key players,” he said.
The Warriors held a 36-32 rebounding advantage, but Sacred Heart managed nine offensive boards.
“I thought our rebounding was very, very big,” Wiebe said. “I don’t know how many offensive boards they had, but I don’t think it was too many.”
After Lonnie Penner’s 37-point game Thursday against Lyndon, Sacred Heart chose to make him a focal point on defense. That worked to a degree as Penner was held to nine points.
Sacred Heart coach Pat Martin said that had been his strategy going in.
“Watching them, we knew they had some good outside shooters, and 23 (Penner) had 37 points, and our game plan was to try to shut him out and get him below 10,” Martin said. “We knew if we did that, we could win the game, but some of the other players stepped up for them.”
Among those other players were Josiah Busenitz, who hit four field goals and finished with a team-high 11 points; post player Karlin Wiebe, who kept taking the high-low pass to the hoop, hitting five times for 10 points. Also helping in the balance was Daniel Claassen, who hit both of his field goals at key times for Berean.
Berean’s first-half barrage did have the Knights on their heels at the half, Martin said.
“I told them at halftime not to try to get it all back at once,” Martin said. “You can’t do that against a good team. We needed to chip away, and we came out in the second half and we scored six big points, then we missed a layup when we could have cut it to 10, and it just kind of steamrolled from there.”