An 11-0 run during the second quarter gave Summit Christian Academy a comfortable lead going into halftime against Pleasant Hill — and Preston Kliewer made sure the Eagles wouldn’t let the Roosters back in.
Scoring 11 of his team-high 24 point in the fourth quarter, Kliewer knocked down six straight free throws in the closing minutes as SCA (7-8) kept Pleasant Hill (4-6) at arm’s length in a 76-63 win Tuesday during the opening round of the Pleasant Hill Basketball Invitational.
“(Summit Christian) really executed well,” Pleasant Hill head coach Ryan Messinger said, “and they hit all the shots they needed to hit. I thought we played better offensively in the second half, but we didn’t get the stops we needed to win tonight.”
Thanks to some hot shooting from behind the arc, the Roosters took a 20-17 lead on a John Hays three-pointer early in the second half.
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After that, the Eagles clamped down on defense and finished the half on a 16-2 run to go up 38-27 with five different players getting in on the scoring.
“The second quarter we really played some tough-nosed, one-unit type defense,” SCA head coach Jacob Derritt said, “and forced them into tough shots and out-rebounded them, which ultimately led us into an 11-point lead going into halftime. Defensively, when we’re playing that way, it makes everything that much easier.”
When Pleasant Hill’s Cole Ederer knocked down a free throw about three minutes into the third quarter, he cut the SCA lead to 57-50 — the closest the game would be in the second half.
Jake Morgan answered with a three-pointer — assisted by Kliewer — among nine shots the Eagles sank from long range.
“I thought that they shot it extremely well,” Messinger said. “We had them at 9 for 11 from three. We knew they were a good-shooting team, and number 30, Preston, caused a lot of problems as far as creating for his teammates. We just had a hard time defending him.
“We’ve been pretty good defensively this year, but Mazen (Jackson), our point guard, getting in foul trouble early really kind of put us in a bind as far as stopping them defensively.”
Ederer kept the Roosters within striking distance scoring 20 of his game-high 26 points in the second half.
“When you’ve got one guy and the rest of your team kind of relies on him a lot,” Messinger said of Ederer, “it’s definitely a balancing act trying to make sure you’re being aggressive, but you’re not trying to do too much. But I thought he did a better job of walking that line the second half.”
Pleasant Hill also snagged a bunch of offensive rebounds, but failed to capitalize on those opportunities.
During the third period, the Roosters collected four offensive rebounds on one possession, but couldn’t get a score. To end the third quarter, Rand Burkhart gathered his own miss from the free-throw line, but that only led to a turnover and Kliewer beat the buzzer with a layup for a 53-44 advantage.
“I’d like to see us put them away and win this game by 20,” Derritt said, “but it comes down to again being the same person quarter-by-quarter on the defensive side. We only played two and a half, three quarters of great defense, so we’ve got to be better and find a way to be consistent for 32 minutes on that side of the ball.”
The Eagles now advance to the semifinals against Belton at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Pleasant Hill, while the Roosters will play Odessa in the consolation semifinals at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.