LAYTON — Preston Christensen has been Northridge’s most consistent player all season, referring to himself as the Knights’ facilitator more so than the leading scorer.
Tuesday night though, he did his best LeBron James imitation.
The senior went off for 36 points, shattering his previous career high of 23 points, as Northridge rallied past Davis for a 51-45 victory in the Region 1 finale.
“He’s kind of been our leader all year. He knows he’s one of five guys, but he’s the guy with the most experience this year. And when we need something to happen he’s the guy we look to,” said Northridge coach Chad Sims.
Christensen scored 25 of his points in the second half, including scoring Northridge’s first 18 points in the second half of the low-scoring, defensive game.
Northridge’s victory created a tie for second in Region 1 between Northridge and Davis, but the Knights swept Davis and earns the No. 2 seed.
“In this league to finish second is big deal,” said Sims.
Throughout most of the first half and third quarter, Davis looked like it had a bead on the No. 2 seed.
That was until Christensen took over.
With Davis leading 29-19 early in the third quarter, Christensen single-handily cut the deficit to 32-28 by the end of the quarter by scoring all nine of Northridge’s points. Six of those nine points were on layups, and Christensen continued to attack the basket in the fourth quarter.
He scored the Knights’ first nine points of the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer with 3:33 remaining that gave his team a 37-36 lead — its first of the game.
“In late-game situations my teammates trust me with the ball in my hand and I want the ball in my hand, but it doesn’t happen without my teammates,” said Christensen.
Including a layup late in the first half, the 3-pointer capped a stretch in which Christensen scored 20 straight points for Northridge.
After Jesse Wade hit a pair of free throws with 2:57 left to put Davis back in front 39-37, someone else finally eased Christensen’s scoring burden as Northridge 3-point specialist Jason Bigler buried a baseline trey with 2:43 remaining — his second of the game as he finished 2 of 9 from long range.
Two minutes later Northridge still led 43-41 after Christensen made 3 of 4 free throws over two possessions, and that’s when unsung hero Dayan Lake came up with the defensive play of the game, stealing the ball near the sideline with 39 seconds remaining.
The sophomore was quickly fouled and made both free throws as the Knights made eight straight fouls shots down the stretch to seal the win.