Grace Christian girls win program’s first 3A state basketball title

Grace Christian Girls win 3A Championship, the first in the girls program history.
Published: Mar. 25, 2023 at 8:43 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - What the Grace Christian girls basketball team lacks in experience, they make up for with talent.

Without a single senior on the team, the Grizzlies broke out of their championship hibernation Saturday at the Alaska Airlines Center to win the program’s first-ever girls state title, claiming the Class 3A crown with a 49-38 win over Mt. Edgecumbe.

The Grizzlies came out firing in the first quarter, with sophomore guard Ella Boerger hitting some big 3′s in the first half to help Grace build a lead.

The Mt. Edgecumbe Braves wouldn’t go away though. Candace Dull showed up as one of the players, hitting big shots and playing tough defense to get the Braves back into it.

Late in the third quarter, the game seemed to take a turn. The Braves had momentum on their side but eventual Player of the Game MJ Van Der Horst put an end to that with big bucket after big bucket.

After that, it was another sophomore’s turn to shine with Sophie Lentfer handling the ball and scoring like a senior in the fourth quarter.

“Honestly I don’t think it’s, like, hit me yet,” Lentfer said. “It felt like a normal game out there, just like, more fans. This is one of the craziest experiences I think I have ever experienced especially in basketball. It’s just surreal. It doesn’t feel real right now. We worked so hard to get here. It’s just amazing.”

The packed Alaska Airlines Center was making noise until the final buzzer sounded, signaling a moment that was long awaited for Grace fans.

“Super exciting, super stressful at the same time, so I told my wife this morning when we left the house, I’ve got a suit on and I’m either going to a wedding or a funeral, right?” Grace Christian girls head coach Pete Johnson said. “But it’s a wedding. It’s a celebration.”

The championship felt a little different than the norm as teams that win are full of senior leadership playing in their last game. For the Grizzlies, this entire team will be back next year and with a state championship under their belt, many will peg them to be even better.