4TH QUARTER HEROICS … Michael Donovan handles the ball against the pressure defense of Emmanuel Christian. Donovan hit two triples in the final quarter as Stryker upset the Warriors 43-35. (PHOTOS BY JACOB KESSLER, STAFF)
By: Nate Calvin
NAPOLEON – As February comes to end, the Stryker Panthers made it clear that March Madness is upon us.
The Panthers made just five field goals in the second half, but three of them were timely 3-pointers as they upset No. 4 seed Emmanuel Christian 43-35 on Wednesday night in the Grand Canyon.
With the game tied 4-4 early on, Stryker would go on a 6-0 run with buckets from Peyton Cioffi, Elijah Juillard, and Michael Donovan to take a 10-4 lead.
Stryker increased their lead in the second quarter with back-to-back triples by Jacob Cadwell and Teyvon Harris to answer a trey from Emmanuel Christian to extend the lead to 16-9.
The Panthers surge continued as Donovan hit two more jumpers and Cioffi scored along the baseline to cap off a 13-3 Stryker run to take a 23-12 lead.
The Warriors would get a 3-pointer from the right corner by Elijah Walker just before the buzzer to trim the Stryker halftime advantage to 23-15.
The Warriors turned up the defensive pressure to start the second half causing problems for Stryker.
After Levi Barnum scored on a back door cut to make it 25-17, Emmanuel Christian would go on a 11-2 run starting with another triple from Walker followed by a layup from Tylin Patterson-Davis.
Patterson-Davis added another field goal and after two foul shots from Nate Houston III, the Warriors had regained the lead at 28-27.
That set the stage for Daniel Donovan to bury a long ball from deep on the right wing as the third quarter buzzer sounded to put Stryker back on top 30-28 entering the final stanza.
The Warrior defensive pressure continued to cause problems for Stryker to start the fourth quarter with Houston III scoring off a steal and then it was a steal and layup by Jalen Brown to increase the EC lead to 32-31.
The Warriors 6-0 spurt was finished off with a drive by Houston III who found a wide-open Patterson-Davis for a layup to make it a 34-31 game.
Michael Donovan responded for Stryker two straight triples, the first at the 3:28 mark to tie the game at 34 and the second with 2:15 to go in the game to give the Panthers a 37-34 advantage.
Stryker would then ice the game at the foul line with Barnum and Cadwell hitting both ends of a one-and-one as the lead ballooned to 41-34 with less than a minute remaining.
Stryker was 7/11 (63%) at the charity stripe in the final quarter and was 8/13 (61%) on the night while the Warriors were 6/14 (42%) for the game.
After going 4/8 from the field during their third quarter rally, EC would go just 3/13 (23%) in the fourth.
Stryker wound up 15/34 shooting with five 3-pointers and turned the ball over 13 times, 11 of those in the second half.
Michael Donovan paced Stryker with a game-high 12 points and the Warriors were fronted by Houston III with 11 points.
It will be an all-BBC Division IV sectional final in Napoleon tomorrow night at 7:30pm as Stryker (10-12) and Pettisville (12-10) meet for the third time this year.
Pettisville won the non-league matchup back on December 2nd (44-36) and Stryker was victorious two weeks ago in the BBC meeting at Stryker 41-34.
STRYKER 10 13 7 13 – 43
E. CHRISTIAN 6 9 13 7 – 35
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