Deion Hamilton led (1)Athena with 22 points and the Trojans held off the defending state champs from (8)Kearney 71-62 in Greece Saturday afternoon.
Stanley Foster led the Kings with 17 points and made the play of the game. Early in the 4th quarter, Foster missed an emphatic dunk attempt. The Kings got the rebound and fed it right back to Foster who hit a corner three.
The Trojans were up eight points at the half and built the lead to 11 before Anthony Lamb picked up his fourth foul. With the big man on the bench, Kearney ripped off nine straight points to cut the lead to a pair.
Nicolas Marlin, who played key minutes in Lamb's absence, stopped the run with a putback and Jay Sarkis followed with a circus layup to put Athena ahead 44-38. A flurry of buckets before the third quarter buzzer left the Trojans ahead by five.
The teams went spectacular hoop for spectacular hoop most of the fourth quarter until Joe Gause bulled his way down low for a layup that got Kearney within two with two minutes to play.
Hamilton answered with a step back jumper to make it a four point lead. Kearney never got another bucket until it was too late and Athena made free throws to make the final margin seem a bit more comfortable.
Athena moves on to face (4)Schroeder in Wednesday's semifinals at Blue Cross Arena. The Warriors handled (5)Aquinas 65-47 Saturday night. Tip time is scheduled for 7:15pm.
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