The McPherson-Elyria Christian Eagles beat the Sharon Springs-Wallace County Wildcats, knocking off the defending champs 61-41 Friday night.

After a back-and-forth five minutes that included three lead changes, the Eagles took an 8-6 lead with 3:02 remaining in the first quarter.

It was the last time the lead changed hands in the game.

The Eagles outscored the Wildcats in every quarter Friday night, but never by more than the eight-point margin they had after the first.

Head coach Zach Goodrich said he thought both teams probably felt like they were underdogs going into Friday’s game, but from his perspective he felt like it was unquestionably the Wildcats who were the more established presence at state, having not only won it in 2017 but having been to the tournament for years and counting.

“Give credit to them, they compete hard,” Goodrich said. “For us it was just can we match their intensity. We watched ‘em on Wednesday night and knew that if we didn’t match their intensity it’d be a long night for us.”

Eagles junior Caleb Froese led all scorers with 21 points. Senior Tyler Thiessen and senior Jaden Starburg each had 10 points as well, and Thiessen had a game-high nine rebounds.

The Eagles will play against Almena-Northern Valley for the 1A DII state title starting at 6:15 p.m. Saturday. The Wildcats will play in the third-place game against Kiowa-South Barber starting at 2 p.m.