Leading by three at the break, it was clear Forest Lake Christian needed something a little extra to give itself some breathing room against San Juan, which had been dominating the boards early for multiple second-chance opportunities.
Senior Chase Augustino did just that for the Falcons. After being held scoreless in the first half, Augustino dropped in 14 points in the third quarter on his way to finishing with 20 as the Falcons put on a show for the home crowd, beating the Spartans 68-51 Tuesday night.
“I just got back in the zone,” said Augustino, after the big turnaround. “I had to refocus. As captain, I need to be able to lead the team, get them open and scoring. I was just thinking too much. I prayed to God to give me patience and do what I could with what I was given.”
The Falcons trailed only once in the game, 2-0, and then went on a 9-0 tear with buckets by Luke Jordan, Kyle Soria, Jacob Yarborough and Christian Dethlefs. However, then it was San Juan’s turn with the Spartans’ 6-foot, 6-inch senior Jimmy Hornbeck taking flight to rattle down a dunk. Sophomore Jeremiah Khem stepped back and dropped in a 3-pointer. Tobias Turner hit a pair of free throws, and just like that, the game was tied 9-9.
“We just have to keep the pressure on with these big schools — guys 6 foot 6 inches,” said head coach Jason Camacho. “We don’t have a tall team, so pressure is key.”
Forest Lake Christian opened a nine-point lead with just over a minute to play in the first half thanks to great ball movement and stingy defensive play to set up quick scores. Senior J.J. Griffiths even cashed in on a four-point play after draining one from downtown as he was fouled. He would add the and-1 at the line. Yet, the Spartans just wouldn’t go away and hit a pair of 3-pointers to close on a 6-0 run, trailing 30-27.
Then it was Augustino’s turn. He started raining in points at the perfect time for the Falcons. As the defense applied more pressure San Juan passes were tipped and stolen. A steal and fast break lay in by Augustino capped off an 8-0 run to start the third quarter. The Spartans couldn’t even get a shot off until after a few possessions. Another steal and another lay in by Augustino gave the Falcons their first double digit lead, 45-35, and it would only grow from there.
“The boys started playing defense,” added Camacho, referring to the third quarter where his squad outscored its opponent 23-13. “Defensively we just started coming alive. We have a good group of guys. They’ve been playing together since the sixth grade and now finally they’re seniors.”
Aside from Augustino’s 20, Griffiths finished the night with 14 points coming off the bench to keep fuel on the fire and knocked down a pair of 3s. Jordan tossed in 11 points, including two from beyond the arc and Soria had 11 points.
“(Augustino) likes to pace himself,” explained Camacho. “I said, ‘Chase, you have to turn on the switch.’”
For the Spartans, Khem led the team with 16 points and popped in four from behind the arc. Hornbeck chipped in 10 points and was very effective in the battle for rebounds. Tobias Turner added eight points.
Next up for the Falcons (7-1) is the Victory Christian Tournament beginning Friday.
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, call 530-477-4234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.