It has been five years since the Falcons from Forest Lake Christian have raised a league championship banner in boys basketball, but that half a decade streak of being in the middle of the pack may be coming to a close.
The Falcons are riding an 11-game win streak that started before Christmas.
They lead the Central Valley California League in scoring (74.2 points per game), are 8-0 in league play and have just four games left.
“To win league would be such an amazing thing,” FLC head coach Jason Camacho said. “Leading into playoffs it would be such a confidence booster. The last four seasons we’ve been one and done in the playoffs, but to win league you must be doing something right and I think it will be a big boost for the team’s confidence.”
The biggest threat to FLC’s bid for the CVCL title comes today when the Woodland Christian Cardinals, the reigning league champs, roll into town.
The primetime showdown pits the Falcons (19-2, 8-0 CVCL), currently alone at the top of the league, against Woodland Christian (14-9, 6-2 CVCL), who sits in second in the CVCL.
“Woodland is tall, I mean they are a really big team,” Camacho said. “The smallest guy in their starting five is 6-2.”
The Cardinals boast one of the largest starting fives in the league, ranging from their junior center Chance Kenealy at 6-foot, 7-inches, down to their shooting guard Robbie Miller at 6-foot, 2-inches.
Miller is the team’s leading scorer (21.9 points per game), but their biggest threat comes from 6-foot, 3-inch senior point guard Dillon Milton.
“(Milton) has such good vision on the court,” Camacho said. “We have to double team, and when he penetrates he makes these no-look passes that they usually score on.”
On the season, Milton is averaging 18.9 points per game, 6.7 rebounds, 8.8 assists and 3.3 steals.
So how do the Falcons, who start just one player that is 6-foot or taller, contend with a team of such height?
“We just stick to our game plan,” Camacho said. “Our key is our full court press and defense. Just make stops. If we can make stops, I’m confident that our offense will put up points.”
The Cardinals have been hot of late, winning nine of their last 11 games after starting the season 1-6, but the Falcons gave Woodland Christian one of its two league losses earlier this season, beating them Jan. 14 at Sleep Train Arena, 77-61.
In that game, FLC was led by its trio of scorers with senior Luke Jordan scoring 19, junior Christian Dethlefs sinking 16, and senior Chase Augustino netting 14. For Woodland Christian, they got 20 points from Milton, 19 from Miller and 16 from Chance Kenealy, but just six points from the rest of the team.
Before the league season started seniors Augustino (15.0 points per game, 4.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 4.1 steals) and Jordan (17.2 points per game, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 steals) both said winning league and going far in the playoffs was the team’s goal. The outcome of tonight’s game will impact that heavily.
If the Falcons pull off the win at home, where they are undefeated this season, it would give them a three-game lead in the CVCL with three games left to play, assuring them at least a share of the league title.
If the Cardinals manage the upset, things get a little murky. The Falcons would have just a one-game lead with three pressure packed games left.
The game tips at 8 p.m. tonight at Forest Lake Christian.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.