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TACOMA - Bradley Swillie sees a lot of his younger-days Life Christian Academy squad in the second-year program across town.

And it could be the start of something fun in the 1A Nisqually League.

The No. 4 Eagles trailed going into the fourth quarter, but got big outings from their top two seniors in rallying for a 79-72 victory over seventh-ranked Annie Wright.

Swillie led all scorers with 26 points. Chae Haynes added 25 points. The Life Christian duo scored 35 of the team's 47 second-half points.

"That was our game plan, to go inside. We knew they did not have the size to match up with Haynes," Life Christian boys coach Charles Simmons said. "We knew if we could get Martin (Kaupanger) in foul trouble, they did not have a deep bench."

The Gators took everything Life Christian could throw at them - and still hung tough behind Hunter Carter's 19 points, Kaupanger's 17 - and sinking 13 3-pointers.

But their 57-54 lead entering the final quarter quickly evaporated. They did not score their first field goal until Carter's 3-pointer with 2:10 remaining.

"I knew they would handle the atmosphere (of a packed gymnasium)," Annie Wright boys coach Dave Alwert said. "What I was worried about was being poised - being the hero … instead of trusting each other."

Still, the young Gators - seven of their top eight players are sophomores and ninth graders - impressed their more-experienced rivals.

"All game, they were resilient. They weren’t going away. They were better than I though they would be," Swillie said. "But in the fourth quarter, I thought our experience and age would play a factor. We knew what we had to do - get stops."

The rematch is set for Feb. 10.

(Featured photo by Todd Milles)