Boys Classic Day 1: ThunderRidge (CO) 66, Colony 44

By Van Williams
Media Classic Director

Even though their superstar had a quiet night, the ThunderRidge Grizzlies made lots of noise with a resounding 63-44 victory over the Colony Knights on Day 1 of the Alaska Airlines Classic at West High.

The state of Colorado’s top player Zach Keller scored eight points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a solid performance. He could have forced things to improve his stats, but he didn’t.

He didn’t need to.

Andrew Crawford stepped up with 16 points, six rebounds and made a living at the free-throw line. Jackson Brennan (10) and Mike Karnisovas (10) chipped in with double figures and Joe Bilello (9) just missed double digits.

The win moved ThunderRidge to 12-0 on the season and pushed the team’s winning streak to 20 games dating back to last season.

Keller, the 6-foot-9 rim rattler, made his presence felt in the opening minutes when he threw down a two-handed monster mash slam as part of ThunderRidge’s 17-2 run to open the game.

ThunderRidge’s Zach Keller says dunk you very much. Photo by Grenel Sumabat

Credit Colony for settling in and fighting back against a much taller team that pressured, altered and changed seemingly every shot attempt.

Kash Luce provided the bookend buckets on a 16-6 run, scoring on a drive to get it started and finishing it off with a 3-pointer to help the Knights climb back within 23-18 early in the second quarter.

Joey Belello, a 6-foot-7 small forward, scored all nine of his points in the third quarter. His steal-and-slam pushed ThunderRidge’s lead to 42-24 near the end of the third quarter.

ThunderRidge’s Joey Bilello lets one fly. Photo by Grenel Sumabat

Crawford put in a complete performance. He made 5-of-10 field goals, including a 3-pointer. He was 9-of-11 from the foul line, including a 6-for-6 stretch in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter after Colony showed signs of making a run.

Colony (8-2) was led by Harvey Pullen’s 15 points. He made 7-of-12 shots after a slow start, showing patience and persistence.

Jayce Underwood recorded 10 points and five assists. His two free throws and driving layup pulled the Knights within 45-32 at the end of the third quarter.

ThunderRidge moved into Friday’s semifinals and will face St. Joseph (CA) at 6 p.m. AST at West High.

ThunderRidge Grizzlies 17 13 15 18 – 63
Dimond Lynx 8 10 14 12 – 44

ThunderRidge – Binu 4, Wight 0, Bilello 9, Karnisovas 10, Brennan 10, Walkowiak 0, Cremeen 2, Allen 2, Franquemont 2, Crawford 16, Spann 0, Keller 8.
Colony – K.Dinkel 2, Morgan 2, B.Dinkel 8, Underwood 10, Peterson 0, Wakaliuk 0, Luce 7, White 0, Pullen 15, 0.

Coloony’s Andrew Morgan shoots over ThunderRidge’s Thomas Walkowiak. Photo by Grenel Sumabat

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