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Church league hoops down to final four

Apr. 24—Top-seeded Generation Changers, St. Frances Cabrini, Pickett Rucker UMC and Connect Church advanced to this coming Saturday's Lebanon Church Basketball League final four at First Baptist Church Lebanon's Family Life Center.

The quartet, all seeded fourth or lower other than Generation Changers, advanced with one or two wins last Saturday. Semifinals will be played at 1 and 2 p.m. this Saturday with the championship to follow at 4. The champion will make the choice of a local charity to receive a $500 donation from the league.

Last Saturday's results:

No. 8 First Baptist Watertown 59, No. 9 Maple Hill Church of Christ 52

As might be expected from the seedings, this was even from start to finish with Maple Hill leading by a point at halftime.

In a contrast of styles, Maple Hill didn't connect on a single 3-pointer in the first half while First Baptist knocked down 10 for the game. Hanley Sobiesczyk dominated in the post for Maple Hill with a game-high 28 points. But none of his teammates scored more than eight.

All eight on Watertown's roster scored with shooting guard Austin Lasater leading the way with 19 points and Youth Minister Seth Price pouring all 16 of his tallies in the second half.

No. 1 Generation Changers 61, No. 8 First Baptist Watertown 41

Watertown had to turn right around and face the top-seed Generation Changers with a deep roster as all nine of its players scored. Donelson campus pastor Blake Belford and shooting guard Kendall Williams combined to score the first 21 points for GC as it built a double-digit lead before First Baptist could gain traction.

Lasater scored a game-high 18 points for First Baptist.

Belford knocked down five 3s for his 15 points while Williams scored a team-high 17 for Generation Changers.

No. 5 Providence UMC 103, No. 12 Crossroads Fellowship 49

Both teams were short handed. But it didn't stop Providence from putting Crossroads away early despite an 8-0 run during the second half by Fellowship.

Shooting guard Cody Worley fired in 40 points, David Fraser finished with 28 and Jacob Burge 23 for Providence.

Dewayne Williamson scored 14 points, Damien Brown 13 and Kyle Sandlin 12 for Crossroads.

No. 4 St. Frances Cabrini 65, Providence UMC 57

Playing a second straight game, 2022 league champion Providence ran out of steam and couldn't keep up with '21 champ St. Frances after leading by four points at halftime.

St. Frances increased its pressure and used its size to tire out Providence's front line. Six-foot-5 forward Evan Britt and Igor Moscardelli scored 14 points apiece for St. Frances. Moscardelli dropped in four triples while Britt attacked the rim off the bounce.

Worley totaled 21 points and Fraser 18 for Providence, which hit just one 3 in the second half.

No. 7 Pickett Rucker UMC 67, No. 10 Cornerstone Baptist Carthage 45

Defending champion Pickett Rucker began its title defense by holding Cornerstone to 18 first-half points by stifling the dominant duo of Benjamin Harwood and Paul Byrnes. Byrnes was held to a season-low five points. Harwood got free in the second half for a game-high 20, but it was too little too late.

Pickett Rucker's balanced attack was led by point guard Charles Stewart's 16 points and post Jeremy Moore's 14.

No. 7 Pickett Rucker 55, No. 2 The Journey 50

Pickett Rucker became the first opening-round winner to pull off back-to-back victories by upsetting The Journey in a rematch of last year's championship game.

UMC jumped out to an 11-point halftime lead. Combo guard Lee Holden had 19 points, hitting 4 of 5 free throws in crunch time.

The Journey's shooting guard, Isaac Johnson, scored a game-high 20 points, including four 3s. Director of Young Adults Hunter Christian had 11.

No. 11 Connect Church 58, No. 6 Bethlehem Church of Christ 57

Connect exacted revenge from earlier this season on 2019 champion Bethlehem, whose 2-3 zone held CC to 19 first-half points.

But Connect point guard Kevonte Black began slicing through the defense and knocked down a couple of fallaway 3-pointers in the second half. He finished 25 points, hitting 8 of 9 free throws in the finals minutes.

Bethlehem's Mark Sandoval scored a game-high 27 points, knocking down all nine from the line but unable to get off a last-second shot against Connect's swarming defense.

No. 11 Connect Church 56, No. 3 Mt. Juliet Church of God 48

Connect became the second straight upset winner in the second round, knocking off its second straight past league champion (MJ Church of God won it all in 2020) in the day's final game. It carried its first-game momentum into this first half to take a six-point lead into halftme.

Black led the winners with 25 points while post player Kene Aruh gave Mt. Juliet trouble inside, forcing early foul problems on his way to 12 points. He also made his mark on the other end of the floor after Mt. Juliet, held to three triples, was run off the line and forcing them to drive into Aruh.

MJ Church of God youth minister Zac Anderson and Jaylan Clemmons each finished with 14 points.

Saturday's schedule

1 p.m. No. 1 Generation Changers vs. No. 4 St. Frances Cabrini

2 p.m. No. 7 Pickett Rucker UMC vs. No. 11 Connect Church

3 p.m. winners meet for championship