It didn’t take long for the Forest Lake Christian Falcons to take off Friday night, and when they landed it was in the Sac-Joaquin Section D-V boys basketball semifinals.
The Falcons (25-3) started on a tear against Ripon Christian and finished the same way, topping the Knights, 73-58, in the quarterfinals to advance to the final four in the D-V bracket Wednesday in Galt.
“The boys worked really hard and played as a team,” FLC head coach Jason Camacho said. “Tonight we went up against a big team with a big reputation, lots of championships, and I just said, ‘lets go out there and make this not our last game,’ ”
The Falcons could do no wrong in the opening moments, streaking out to a 19-2 advantage six minutes into the game. Senior guard Luke Jordan hit a pair of 3-pointers, Roman Makovey hit the glass for a put back, Christian Dethlefs hit a pair of shots, Chase Augustino took a rebound coast-to-coast for a layup and much to the shock of Ripon Christian it was a 17-point game right out of the gates.
The Knights (22-6) were not going to go quietly through, ending the quarter with three 3-pointers from three different players and getting some inside buckets to make it 21-15 at the end of one.
Ripon Christian continued to chip away at the Falcons’ lead in the second quarter, outscoring FLC 15-12, cutting the margin to just three points by halftime.
In the third, one of the Falcons’ main scoring threats, Augustino, picked up his third foul and sat much of the quarter. But junior post player Dethlefs and the FLC bench stepped up, showing the Falcons’ team depth.
Dethlefs scored 10 of his 17 points in the second half and also grabbed nine of his 12 rebounds in the final two quarters.
Players like Daniel Blackburn stepped up, hitting a pair of 3-pointers, Makovey was a terror on the glass, corralling eight rebounds, and Tyler young made hustle play after hustle play to keep FLC in the lead.
“When Chase and Kyle got in foul trouble we told the bench they had to step it up,” Camacho said. “We’ve come too far to let this slip away. Timmy Schneider and Daniel Blackburn coming in stepped up and helped us out.”
Ripon Christian did grab the lead for a brief moment in the third at 37-36, but the Falcons responded with a Blackburn 3-pointer, a pair of free throws from Dethlefs and a 3-ball from Jordan.
Jordan finished with a team-high 19 points, including three 3-pointers. While Augustino and starting point guard Kyle Soria were hampered with foul trouble in the first half, Jordan kept the Falcons soaring, scoring 14 of his 19 points in the first half.
Leading 47-41 with less than a minute to go in the quarter the Knights rallied, hitting a pair of free throws before nailing a half court shot a the buzzer to send the game to the fourth quarter, 47-46, in FLC’s favor.
In the fourth, the Falcons turned up the heat, and with a fresh Augustino on the court FLC ran away with it.
Augustino scored 12 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, hitting a 3-pointer to open the period then finding Young with a beautiful bounce pass that led to a bucket. The Falcons opened the quarter on a 12-2 run and outscored Ripon Christian 26-12 over the entirety of the quarter.
“It was motivation,” Dethlefs said of the tight game heading into the fourth quarter. “We have a lot of seniors on the team and if we lost it would have been our last game, and I give the seniors credit, they stepped up and really wanted to win this.”
Dethlefs did a little bit of everything in the fourth quarter, scoring six points, dishing out two assists and grabbing three rebounds in the quarter alone.
“I give God all the glory,” he said. “I’ve been working all season and He’s been helping me get better, also helping the team. I give God the glory for everything.”
The Falcons shot well from the free throw line, hitting 15-of-22 from the charity stripe. Ripon Christian was just nine of 17 from the stripe.
With the win, No. 4 seed FLC will face off with top-seed Capital Christian Wednesday in Galt for the right to play for the D-V section championship.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.