WORCESTER, Mass. -- Hans Miersma was again the key for Whitinsville Christian on Wednesday night, as the Crusaders eased their way to a 57-41 victory over the Lenox Millionaires in the Division Central/West semifinal at the DCU Center.
“Hans is just like an anchor back there,” Whitinsville head coach Jeff Bajema said after the win. “If we get beat on the perimeter we have Hans in the middle, and its tough to get over him.”
Miersma was an integral part of the Crusaders' quick start on both ends of the floor. He had four blocks and nine rebounds in the first half, as WC led 31-13 over Lenox at the break. At game's end, the 6-foot-9 forward tallied 16 points to go along with 13 rebounds and five blocks.
Lenox senior Andrew Martin hit a pair of big three pointers to open up the second half and the Millionaires went on a 10-1 run over the first seven minutes of the third quarter. Then, the Crusaders adjusted on defense and settled back into a dominating groove.
“In the third quarter we came out a little slow,” Miersma said of the third quarter letdown. “They started hitting shots in the third quarter and that contributed to their run, but we knew if we shut down the shooters we would slow them down.”
Lenox’s Kevin Carpenter led the Western Mass champions with 12 points in the game, but Miersma countered the Millionaires’ offense at the base of a Whitinsville 1-3-1 zone.
The Crusaders opened up the fourth quarter by taking the ball into the middle of the Lenox defense.
Sophomore Colin Richey and senior Taylor Bajema combined as a powerful combination on the fast break, and turned a lot of Lenox turnovers into layups. Richey finished the game with 16 points, and Bajema led all scorers with 19 points in the semifinal.
“We got a lot of easy layups down the stretch because of us [pushing the ball].” Richey said of the strategy. “My goal was to try and tire them out in the first half so we can get those easy runs in the second.”
At one point late in the fourth quarter, Bajema converted three consecutive Lenox turnovers into transition layups for the Crusaders, and stretched the lead to 18 points.
Whitinsville advances to the Division III State Final at the TD Garden where they will play Watertown.