Friday, Feb. 20, 2009 | 12:04 a.m.
For the first time in four years there will be a new 3A boys basketball champion.
Boulder City High, the 3A Southern League's No. 4 seed upset top-seeded Faith Lutheran 62-54 on Thursday night in the semifinals of the league tournament at Desert Oasis.
"Faith Lutheran's had a strangle hold on the 3A since they've been here," Boulder City coach Bobby Reese said. "I felt we had a shot to break it."
The win also qualified Boulder City a trip to the state tournament, the school's first since winning the championship in 1999.
Holding a two-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Eagles kept Faith Lutheran from scoring a field goal until 56 seconds remained in the game.
"We played phenomenal defense," Reese said. "We needed a good start to get the kids believing, because Faith gave us a thumping last time."
Boulder City used a 6-0 run to start the fourth quarter to take a 48-40 lead. Senior guard Joey Western scored all six points, as part of his 21 point performance.
"This was a big game for him. He struggled with a knee injury all year, but he was at full strength tonight and it was a game he really wanted," Reese said.
Crusaders' coach Bret Walter said a lack of desire was the biggest reason for his team's loss.
"We didn't desire to win and didn't put forth the effort," Walter said. "We told the kids after wards we felt Boulder put forth a better effort and they were ready to go and we didn't meet their intensity."
Two technical foul calls and the ejection of Faith Lutheran senior guard David Sperry in the third quarter was a turning point in the game.
At the 3:39 mark of the third quarter, with Boulder City holding a 32-31 lead, Sperry and Eagles senior guard Alex Dillon became entangled in the back court. In the ensuing tussle, Sperry was ejected and Boulder City shot two free throws and took possession of the ball.
However, Sperry remained on the court, Walter said, because the referee did not inform him that Sperry had been ejected. With Sperry still on the court, another technical was issued against Faith Lutheran.
"The referee did not tell me David had been disqualified, so (Boulder City) gets four three throws and two possessions. That's easily six points right there, and we're down six points in the fourth quarter, so yeah it hurt us," Walter said.
The Eagles used the free throws and possessions to build a 36-31 lead, but the Crusaders were still able to narrow it to two points by the end of the third quarter on a three-pointer by senior guard Chase Saunders at the buzzer. Saunders had a team-high 19 points, while sophomore forward Brett Lubbe added 18.
Boulder City held Faith Lutheran to eight first quarter points, but the Crusaders out-scored the Eagles 16-12 in the second quarter for a 25-25 halftime time.
The Eagles face Moapa Valley in the championship game at 8:20 on Saturday. The Pirates defeated Virgin Valley 67-58 in the first semifinal game.
Faith Lutheran's girls team also lost its semifinal, losing to Virgin Valley 43-35 in the girls semifinals. Virgin Valley faces Boulder City in the girls championship at 6:40.
Brent Hinckley is the Boulder City News sports writer and can be reached at 990-7822 or [email protected].