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North Love Christian boys and girls celebrate IACS state championships

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Both North Love Christian’s boys and girls basketball teams went home as the Illinois Association of Christian Schools’ state champions Saturday capturing both the girls’ and the boys’ IACS titles.

After last year’s 2nd place finish in the IACS state championship game, the North Love girls came back with a vengeance and beat Mississippi Valley Christian in a thriller 47-44. North Love trailed by eight in the fourth quarter, but the Lady Lancers came back when Claire Cotelleso fired in a three-pointer. Senior Carissa Akin put the game away with a pair of free throws with seven seconds to play.

“This feels so good, especially after last year, getting beat kind of like by 20 points,” Akin said. “This just feels amazing. Coach has been telling us all season, ‘You’ve got to just keep fighting, keep going,’ and we never gave up and we eventually won. I’m so happy we did.”

“We’ve come in fourth, fourth, second, second,” North Love head coach Julianne Molencupp said. “It feels good to finally win. I have four seniors who I’ve been coaching since they’ve been in eighth grade. They hadn’t won state yet and this is it. This is their year.”

North Love’s boys also beat their Rockford rivals Berean Baptist 63-57 to repeat as the IACS state champs. Berean trailed by only two with under two minutes to play, but North Love stayed strong and held it’s lead to the end.

“Last year we lost two seniors and we brought a lot of key players back this year and we just knew we had to step up and pick up the scoring from them,” North Love forward Braeden Lahre said. “I’m just really happy that we could succeed.”

“We talked about it at the beginning of the year, going back-to-back, how hard it was going to be but we just – when it comes down to it, we really trust our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in keeping us going,” North Love head coach Anthony Cotelleso said.

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