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North Tech Is Columbia, Mo. Bound; Lutheran North Returns To Semifinals

By Jim Wieners

For the first time in school history, in any sport, North Technical will be playing in a state semifinal athletic contest.

For the second straight year and the seventh time since 1980 Lutheran North Boys Basketball will be going to Columbia, seeking their third state title, their first since 2005.

North Tech Girls Basketball is the first team sport to compete in a state semifinal. Regardless of the outcome in the next two games, North Tech will be taking home their second state trophy ever. In 2008 North Tech finished second in Girls Track & Field.

North Tech has a Class Three Semifinal game March 7 at Mizzou Arena, 3:20 against Lutheran High St. Charles County who is playing their third semifinal game but first since taking second in 2005. At 5 p.m. St. James plays Cameron in the other semifinal. Winners play March 9, 1:20 for the state title while the losers play March 8 at 1:40 for third place.

“The tournament is really balance,” said North Tech head coach George Merritt in a March 3 telephone interview and the one who wants it the most and Merritt added “I think we can do it, there is no doubt in my mind. We‘ve had tremendous progress.”

Lutheran North will be coming back to Mizzou Arena in hopes for improving on their third place finish last year. Lutheran North has a 12 noon Class Three semifinal game March 7 against College Prep of Madison, a first-year St. Louis Charter School that replaced Imagine College Prep who closed after last school year. Fatima and Kansas City St. Pius will play at 1:40 in the other semifinal and the winners play March 9, 11:40 a.m. for the state title while the losers play March 8, 12 noon for third place.

Lutheran North first-year head coach Anthony Hall, who replaced the now McCluer head coach Brent Rueter, said Feb. 27 “we’re trying our best to get there (to state). As they listen to our coaching we’ve gotten better and better.”

Both North Tech Girls (20-8) and Lutheran North Boys (20-11) go to Columbia on eight game win streaks. The last five each come in District Five, sectionals and quarterfinals.

In District Five North Tech Girls — At Mathews-Dickey Boys and Girls Club — defeated Trinity Catholic 68-27 and Metro 59-46 while the Golden Eagles secured the district title at Vashon with a 54-51 win over top-seeded Cardinal Ritter. Meanwhile, Lutheran North Boys, at Vashon, won District Five with wins over Orchard Farm, 62-33, top-seeded North Tech, 74-54, and Cardinal Ritter, 69-58.

Vivianna Carter averaged 20.3 points for North Tech in District Five including 26 against Trinity Catholic. Anthony Virdure averaged 31.7 points in District Five for Lutheran North including a pair of 33-point games, against Orchard Farm and North Tech.

North Tech had close games against Hermann and Palmyra and the Golden Eagles pulled both off. In the 65-62 Sectional win over Hermann, Feb. 27 at Francis Howell Central, Cottleville, Khalia Miller, who scored  27 points, hit six shots from three-point range including a buzzer-beater at halftime and three in a row in the final two minutes, part of a 10-2 run to erase a 60-55 deficit. In the 55-53 Quarterfinal win over Palmyra March 2 at Moberly Area Community College scored 20 points and pulled down 18n rebounds but Khalia Miller, who scored 18, hit two game-winning free throws with 1:28 left in the fourth quarter.

“We just keep playing, keep having fun,” Merritt said after the win over Hermann. “I’m impressed with the team,” he said March 3 on the phone.

Lutheran North won the sectional and quarterfinal games by double digits. In the 79-59 win Feb. 27 over O’Fallon Christian at Francis Howell Central Virdure scored 23 including 15 in the first half, while Isaiah Holman had 10 assists. In the 57-47 quarterfinal win  over Southern Boone at Moberly Area Community College Virdure scored nine of his 24 points in the fourth quarter while Renell Wren pulled down 11 rebounds.

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