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Crean Lutheran boys basketball stops Notre Dame, advances to Div. I regional final

IRVINE >> The Crean Lutheran boys basketball team was able to withstand two scoring barrages from Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks to win 72-65 Saturday in the CIF Southern California Division I regional semifinals at Crean Lutheran High.

The Saints (26-5) will play at Damien of La Verne in the regional championship game Tuesday. The two teams met in the first round of pool play in the CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs and Damien won 64-59.

Notre Dame (21-8) started the game with a hot shooting hand and opened the second half with a scoring run as well. The Knights made their first four 3-point attempts and got out to an early nine-point lead.

Crean Lutheran responded with a 16-1 run in the first half to take a 14-point lead into halftime.

Notre Dame quickly erased that lead and scored nine consecutive points in less than two minutes to open the third quarter and prompt a Saints timeout.

The Saints took a two point lead midway through the third when Vyctorius Miller and Parker Tuttle made back-to-back 3-pointers to get momentum back in their favor.

“We knew that they had the capability of having offensive explosions,” Crean Lutheran coach Nate Klitzing said. “We just had to take a deep breath and understand that the sky isn’t falling. Once we locked in and defended we were alright.”

Miller and Tuttle led the Saints in scoring with 20 and 17 points, respectively. Tuttle made five 3-pointers and Miller added seven points and five assists.

Crean Lutheran’s 6-foot-10 center, Koat Keat, returned to action Saturday after missing some time with a knee injury. Keat had 13 points with 12 rebounds and four blocks off the bench.

“I love that guy. He is just a warrior,” Klitzing said. “He is our engine and the heart and soul of the team. We have a lot of talented players but ‘KK’ is the guy who affects the game in every area of the court.”

Creighton signee Ben Shtolzberg had 22 points to lead Notre Dame. Daniel Margusov had 17 points with five 3-pointers. The Knights made 12 of 31 3-point attempts and forced 14 turnovers on defense.

The Saints have a chip on their shoulder from their previous matchup with Damien when they squandered a 20-point lead.

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