LOURDES College on Friday, February 24, earned the right to face Southern de Oro Philippines College in the finals after beating Marawi State University in the 11th Loyola Cup Basketball Tournament college men’s division semi-finals at the Xavier University gym in Cagayan de Oro City.

Andy Valenzuela fired a game-high 37 points to lift Lourdes Blue Sash, while Richard Olarte contributed with 16 points.

From a tight first quarter, the trio of Valenzuela, Naz Baluran and Ken Embaradora propelled Lourdes College to hold an 11-point lead at the half, 39-28.

The Blue Sash of coach Ricky Sinco maintained almost the same distance at the end of the third quarter but cautioned themselves in the fourth quarter.

The MSU Sultans sparked a threatening rally after unloading two booming treys that cut their deficit by six points, 75-69.

But, Lourdes contained the threat after Valenzuela connected back-to-back baskets including a three-point play to seal the victory and the last seat to the finals.

Olarte is happy to guide Lourdes College to a much-awaited rematch with the SPC Sharks of coach Rey Dangcal.

The Blue Sash will capitalize the absence of the Sharks’ reliable troika of LJ Aquino, Mac Labares and Jeff Egan, who’s still recuperating in a hospital due to dengue fever.

Aquino and Labares did not make the tourney’s age requirement limit.

The Blue Sash never won since their previous outings in the Loyola Cup and the Cagayan de Oro Basketball Federation (CDOBF) Tournament.

However, Dangcal noticed that Lourdes is determined to beat his Sharks in the finals set tonight at 7:30 pm.

“We’ll see what we can do with some of our key players being left out,” Dangcal said.

In the distaff side, Indahag National High School made history after securing their first ever finals appearance since joining the Loyola Cup ladies division some years ago.

The Lady Skyhawks of Indahag move to the finals after a lopsided win over host Xavier University, 56-26.

Rookie playmaker Jannelle Alipoyo, undeniably the most improved female player in the tournament, sparked for the Lady Skyhawks with 12 points.

Mar-en Aslon, a prize catch from Bulua National High School, added 10 points, while Indahag’s reliable point guard Dhana Marie Dalagan chipped in 9 markers.

Aslon was allowed to play to gel with the rest of the lady Skyhawks for their coming preparations in the upcoming Palarong Pambansa.

The Lady Skyhawks will face the winner between Hornets of Catrina June Pong-Biongcog and Zamboanga del Sur Sports Academy, still playing as of Saturday.