The Forest Lake Christian girls basketball team endured a campaign of mixed results last season, finishing 9-15 overall and 5-7 in the Central Valley California League, earning them fourth place out of seven teams. The Lady Falcons scored 40 points per game, shooting 28 percent from the floor, but they allowed nearly 50 points.
“We really want to make the playoffs again,” said Ritchart. “Up until three years ago, it was a given that Forest Lake Christian was always in it. We want to get back.”
It is obvious the Lady Falcons need more emphasis on defense if they intend to make their high scores stand up, and that’s just what Ritchart has his team focusing on.
“The number one thing we’ve been working on is our defense,” Ritchart said. “We need to be a lot better. Scoring, we know how to execute offensively. Our games are pretty high. We have a ways to go, but it’ll come with the experience.”
Offensively FLC will turn to Lauren Piner, who led the team in scoring last season as a freshman with 11 points per game. Her presence and awareness on the floor as a shooter makes her one of FLC’s biggest contributors, said Ritchart.
This season, the Lady Falcons are a very young team comprised of six sophomores, two juniors and Emily Woodward, their lone senior. They graduated four seniors last year, but their ambitions are still high. With Woodward and point guard Emily Pearce as captains, there is plenty of leadership and knowledge to go around for the rest of the team to feed off, said Ritchart.
Pearce, a junior, has been a very good point guard for the Lady Falcons, averaging 7.7 points per game to go with 39 assists and 67 steals last season. They’ll look to her to be a strong leader. Woodward is by far the Falcon’s strongest inside player and led the team with 96 rebounds in her junior year.
“We want to get to the playoffs and do as well as we can as a team,” Woodward said. “I’m always trying to improve myself too.”
Josey Poppin, also a third-year varsity player, continuously improves her game, listens well and makes adjustments on the court. She has the ability to lead others by doing things through her actions. We’ll look to her to contribute among the other upper-classmen, Ritchart said.
Of course, with all the sophomores on this year’s squad, there will be plenty of opportunity for young players to make a positive impact.
“The most fun times is when everyone is contributing,” said Ritchart. “We’re committed to playing all nine girls every game. Seeing players accomplish something they didn’t think they could do is what’s most enjoyable for me as a coach.”
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, call (530) 477-4234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org