The Central Valley California League tipped off with a thriller Thursday night, as the Forest Lake Christian girls basketball team defeated Sacramento Waldorf for the first time in five seasons, 52-42.
“It’s the eighth time I’ve played them and the first time I’ve won,” said head coach Tom Ritchart. “Beating Sacramento Waldorf was one of our goals this season. It’s also nice to win the league opener.”
The Lady Falcons trailed only once all game, and it was only 2-0. From there, the Lady Falcons built an eight-point lead going on a 10-0 run. They pressed early and often, forcing the Waves’ offense to turn the ball over several times with a shot clock violation, a pass out of bounds and multiple steals.
It was Lauren Piner who led the way for Forest Lake Christian, consistently knocking down open shots underneath the basket off crisp passes from her teammates. Piner finished the night with 20 points.
“We ran the ball really hard, kept our energy up and gave it our all,” said Piner. “We’ve improved a lot this season. Getting in situations like tonight, we learn how to slow it down.”
Forest Lake Christian’s stingy defense continued through the second quarter as it swarmed the ball, causing several travel violations and a five-second violation after a successful trap. The Lady Falcons maintained control of the game and the lead, going into halftime up 22-18.
Part of the reason the Lady Falcons couldn’t pull away was allowing too many offensive rebounds and Sacramento Waldorf’s Ella Haberman, who kept the Waves close, dropping a few 3-pointers to finish with 16 points.
“Offensively Lauren did great,” Ritchart said. “Defensively we mixed it up and limited their best shooter.”
Both teams scored 12 points in the third quarter, and while the Lady Falcons’ aggressive defense gave the Waves plenty of chances from the foul line, junior Emily Pearce proved to be an impact player all game, as she swiped four steals and blocked a shot to set up opportune shots for her teammates in transition. The Lady Falcons maintained a four-point advantage, 34-30, heading into the fourth quarter. Pearce finished with six points.
Josey guarded No. 22 (Ella Haberman) really well, Pearce’ sticky hands carried the team getting steals, and everyone moved together and played great tonight, Piner said. Senior Emily Woodward had several blocks down low and made scoring tough in the paint.
In the fourth quarter, the Lady Falcons’ hustle overcame Sacramento Waldorf, and they pushed their lead to 16 points, going on a 14-4 run, which featured great ball movement and relentless energy, as every player finished with at least one score. Sophomore Hailey Adams answered the call down the stretch, tossing in a couple of clutch shots. Adams finished with six points and stayed busy on defense, rotating with zone play.
Conditioning was a factor down the stretch, as the Lady Falcons were ready to go and went to a zone. By that time, Sacramento Waldorf was pretty worn down, said Ritchart.
The Lady Falcons (5-5, 1-0 CVCL), who also won their consolation championship game last weekend 65-57 over Vallejo Christian at the Vacaville Christian Tournament, will look to continue their impressive play today when they travel to take on Woodland Christian.
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4234.