Behind a tenacious press and a run-and-gun offense, the Forest Lake Christian girls basketball team throttled Sacramento Adventist, 55-37, Monday night at home.
The Lady Falcons (4-3) quickly opened with a couple of baskets to take a 4-0 lead. After a few miscues, Sacramento Adventist (2-4) fought back to tie it at four, but from there, Forest Lake Christian put the pedal to the metal with its aggressive press-and-run style of play.
“That’s what we do,” said FLC coach Tom Ritchart. “Last year was panic city facing the press. This group is go, go, go. We play everyone and run more than anything. No one ever raises their hand when they’re tired to come out. It doesn’t happen.”
To begin the second quarter, Forest Lake Christian went on an 11-0 run and extended their lead to 25-11. Sacramento Adventist struggled to develop any kind of rhythm against the Lady Falcons’ pressing defense. Emily Pearce had multiple steals and pushed the ball up court faster than Sacramento Adventist could respond. Pearce contributed 12 points in the winning effort.
“I just anticipate where they go and get in front of the ball,” said Pearce. “This team has grown together more since last year.”
Even when Sacramento Adventist managed to push the ball on to its side of the court and score, the Lady Falcons immediately countered with points of their own. Josey Poppin capitalized on several shot opportunities beneath the basket and finished the night with 11 points.
“I’ve been practicing since the third grade,” Poppin said. “We just put in a lot of work.”
Sacramento Adventist was able to draw plenty of fouls throughout the course of the game but had trouble from the free-throw line, failing to convert on several attempts.
It is clear that Forest Lake Christian’s tenacious defense directly fuels its offense. The girls simply run and don’t know how or sometimes even when to stop, said Ritchart.
“We executed our zone offense and got it into our bigs,” said Ritchart. “We have learned the run-and-press game. Now we’re just trying to figure out how to use it the right way.”
The Lady Falcons are a young team with six sophomores at the core, all of whom played on the varsity squad last year and attended a week-long summer camp where they conditioned by playing 20 games in just five days.
“I’m impressed with their fast play,” said assistant coach Marty Pearce. “It’s what they’re good at. It’s in them. They can’t just flip a switch and relax.”
Leading 29-19 at the half, Forest Lake Christian wasn’t close to being done. A substantial offensive run in the third quarter equated to a 51-26 lead heading to the fourth, largely thanks to the hot shooting hand of Lauren Piner who led all scorers with 16 points.
“We all gel together really well,” said Piner. “We’re really aggressive and have matured and learned a lot more. When coach tells us to slow down, we speed up.”
Senior Emily Woodward added tremendous stability for the Lady Falcons in the paint, gathering up any loose ball that came her way and dropping in 10 points with her final basket coming in the fourth quarter to break up a 5-0 run by Sacramento Adventist.
The Lady Falcons have seemed to find their identity early in the season, as an enthusiastic group not knowing when to quit, which is a dilemma any coach would like to have. Struggling in their opening tournament at Forest Lake Christian to win just one of three, the squad turned it around last weekend to finish in second place in a four-team round-robin tournament at Golden Sierra winning two of three games.
“We’re having fun with it so far,” said Ritchart.
The Lady Falcons travel to the Lincoln Tournament Thursday where they will likely be tested as they compete against Division IV teams.
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, call (530) 477-4234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org