It is another trip to the state finals for Gilbert Christian.
The Knights methodically dismantled Snowflake, 70-52, on Friday in the Division III semifinals at Jobing.com Arena on Friday.
With the victory Gilbert Christian gets another shot at a state title here at 6 p.m. Saturday, this time against Thatcher, which beat Holbrook in double overtime on Thursday. After winning the Class 1A state title in 2010, the Knights lost in the 1A finals last year.
“One of the worst days of my life,” sophomore forward Sam Jones said of last year's finale.
Friday was a little better for Jones and his teammates, as their talent helped them pull away from the Lobos in the second half.
Center Connor Patterson had 22 points and 18 rebounds, Jones added 20 points and nine rebounds and forward Roberto Reyes had eight points and 15 rebounds. Rebounding was the difference in the game as the Knights had 57 to the Lobos' 25.
Of those rebounds, 27 were on the offensive and allowed Gilbert Christian to pile up 20 second-chance points. Both the 6-foot-7 Patterson and the 6-4 Reyes had nine offensive boards.
“All year we’ve tried to be a physical team,” Gilbert Christian coach Jerome Joseph said. “We try to find the hot player and mismatches.”
The Lobos post players, 6-foot-5 Reggie Petersen and 6-5 Dustin Baldwin, were the victims of the mismatch, as the rugged Patterson taking them to task in the paint.
With point guard Logan Foughies running the offense, Gilbert Christian got most shots it wanted, but were patient and worked the ball down into Patterson, who more often than not converted for the Knights.
“We have to make sure we get him the ball,” Jones said. “Running our offense from inside to out makes it easier for us.”
Leading 32-24 at the half, Gilbert Christian (26-4) opened the third quarter with five straight points to take its first double-digit lead at 37-24. Snowflake never got closer than 10 points the rest of the game.
The Lobos could not have asked for a better start using the fast break to get three easy baskets to start the game and take a 7-0 lead. Junior forward Chase Walden got two of those baskets on layups and set up the first score of the game when he stuffed a 3-point attempt by the 6-foot-7 Jones.
“We just looked kind of nervous,” Gilbert Christian coach Jerome Joseph said. “Once we got out of the hole, I knew we could score the ball and create some turnovers.”
Walden had 21 points while senior point guard Jake Shumway added 13 points and five assists.
Trailing 13-12 after one quarter Gilbert Christian slowly took control of the game behind Jones’ shooting and the low-post play of Connor Patterson. Jones scored nine of his 13 first-half points in the second quarter and it helped the Knights to a 32-24 lead at intermission.
Thanks to 10 forced turnovers in the first half, Gilbert Christian had seven more field goal attempts in the half and shot five more free throws.