By Matt Green
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Anthony Banks got rolling, and Mid-America Christian was concerned.
Walter Hill got hot, and Mid-America Christian was in trouble.
When Kenny Leverette all but shut down MACU's Sooner Athletic Conference Player of the Year, the Evangels had no chance. A complete performance by the Hawks means a semifinal berth at a national tournament.
Banks scored a career-high 33 and pulled 15 boards, Hill finished with 26 points and Leverette added 16 points, three steals and arguably his best half of defense as fifth-seeded Shorter rolled to a 101-89 victory over fourth-seeded Mid-America Christian in the quarterfinals of the NCCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship.
The Hawks (19-11) advance to tomorrow's 3:30 pm semifinal against the winner of the matchup between top-seeded Fresno Pacific and eighth-seeded Roberts Wesleyan. Shorter is looking to advance to its first national championship game.
Shorter dismantled the Evangels almost from the tip, surging ahead to stay with a series of early runs.
MACU led 7-3 in the early going, but a 9-0 run by the Hawks put Shorter up to stay. Hill hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to put the Hawks up 25-11 with 11:52 to go until halftime and another Hill trey made it 48-30 with just under a minute until the break.
Shorter led 50-32 at the half then quickly pushed its advantage to 24 in the early moments of the second half. Mid-America Christian got as close as 13 midway through the second half, but a 10-2 Shorter spurt put the game out of reach, as Hill capped the run with a free throw at the 6:53 mark that made it 83-62.
The tone was set in the first half by the defense of Leverette, who was tasked with guarding high-scoring Sooner Athletic Conference Player of the Year Charlie Shorter.
Shorter, who entered the game averaging 23 points, was held to six points in the first half on 2 of 13 shooting by Leverette. He finished with 31 points, but needed 25 shots to get there. Shorter also turned the ball over three times against Leverette's relentless pressure.
Banks was fantastic all day for the Hawks, going 12-for-22 from the floor and 9 of 10 from the foul line while adding five blocks and four assists. Hill hit all five of his 3-pointers in the first half and finished 7-for-13 from the field.
Banks and Hill combined for 31 points in a first half that essentially decided the outcome.
Dedric Ware had another phenomenal game at the point for the Hawks, finishing with 11 points and nine assists against just one turnover in 35 minutes. Marquise King gave Shorter five players in double figures, chipping in with 10 points and five assists.
The Hawks assisted on 22 of their 35 made field goals and shot 52 percent for the game. Shorter also made 11 of 22 attempts from beyond the arc.
Mid-America Christian got 18 points from Angelo Lewis in support of Shorter, but those were only two to reach double figures for the Evangels. Had it not been for a 9-for-14 performance from 3 in the second half by MACU, the final margin may have been worse.
Tomorrow's national semifinal will be broadcast live on WATG-FM 95.7 The Ridge and video streamed by Tourbeau Sports.