The Forest Lake Christian boys basketball team squared off against Woodland Christian at home Tuesday night in a pivotal Central Valley California League bout.
The Cardinals of Woodland Christian owned the paint and soared past the Falcons, 69-61, to take sole possession of second place in the CVCL behind Delta.
The Achilles heel for the Falcons seemed to be fouls and surrendering second chance points.
Forest Lake Christian was just 1-of-3 from the free-throw line as Woodland Christian went 16-of-25. The Cardinals also out-rebounded the Falcons 49-34, including nine more offensive boards.
“We were really streaky on offense,” said FLC shooting guard Luke Jordan. “Our defense was slacking really bad. We needed to box out better. We gave up way too many second chance points.”
Jordan led the way for the Falcons scoring 20 points on 9-of-26 shooting.
FLC’s Brandon Camacho also had a big game with 14 points, seven boards and four steals. FLC’s top scorer this season, Chase Augustino, contributed 10 points for the game.
Even with the Falcons losing the offensive rebound battle and continuously sending the Cardinals to the charity strip, they played hard and kept things interesting despite half their team fighting illness throughout the week.
It was Jordan and Camacho giving the Falcons an early 6-2 lead with a pair of 3-pointers, but the offense struggled soon after as the Cardinals went on an 11-0 run to regain control 13-6.
Driving hard through the lane and getting fouled became a theme for Woodland Christian as it took advantage converting 11-of-19 free throws in the first half.
The game never fell out of reach as it was Camacho and Jordan beginning a streak of scores for Forest Lake Christian which went on a 7-2 run to pull within two points at the end of the first quarter. Augustino came to life midway through the second quarter tossing in a lay up and a pair of 3-pointers to bring the Falcons within three at the half, 30-27.
The rim seemed to have a grudge against the Falcons as they consistently had trouble getting their inside shot to fall. Knocking down six 3-pointers allowed them to stay within striking distance, but Woodland began the second half, making a couple from beyond the arc to stretch its lead to seven.
Forest Lake Christian countered with a runner in the lane by Jordan and Camacho gave the Falcons a short-lived 42-41 lead with a layup, but Woodland Christian moved the ball well and drove hard to the basket closing the third quarter on a 9-2 run to go up 50-44.
“We started playing tougher defense and it got us going,” said Jordan. “We were working on taking control of the paint to get them off the glass and stop their posts.”
Forest Lake Christian picked up the pace down the stretch, but its aggressiveness frequently sent the Cardinals back to the foul line. Woodland built its lead back up to 10, but the Falcons wouldn’t go away as Jordan drove hard and laid one off the glass to pull his team within five. The Cardinals led 58-55 with two minutes to play. The Falcons stole the ball and passed up court to Jordan who dropped in another score to make it 58-57.
“Going two-three distracted them a little when we changes our offensive set,” said FLC head coach Jason Camacho. “It was a physical game as expected.”
Woodland Christian answered with a 3-point play to go back up by three. The Falcons soared right back downcourt with a layup, but it was the Cardinals who continued to drive hard to the rim and pick up fouls, including an intentional foul with 24 seconds left that pushed their lead to 67-61 as they hung on for the victory.
“Half of our team has the flu,” said Camacho. “We need to get healthy like we were in the preseason.”
The loss drops Forest Lake Christian (14-7, 4-3) into third place in the CVCL. The Falcons will have time to recoup with their next game coming versus Foresthill Tuesday.
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, call 530-477-4234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.