PREP BASKETBALL: Forest Lake Christian girls have won 10-straight, eye league title | TheUnion.com

PREP BASKETBALL: Forest Lake Christian girls have won 10-straight, eye league title

With strong senior leadership, dominant post players, tenacious defenders and a plethora of young talent the Forest Lake Christian girls basketball team has all the makings of a great team.

The rest of the squads in the Central Valley California League are finding that out first hand.

After starting the season 2-5 against non-league opponents, the Lady Falcons have taken flight winning 10-straight, including five blowout wins in league play.

"Honestly, it's the unity of the girls," first year head coach Valerie Horner cited as the main reason for the team's success. "They are all super close and they trust each other. They are operating as one."

Horner, an FLC grad and former player who had been an assistant coach the past two seasons, took over for Tom Ritchart, who was the head coach at FLC from 2010 through last season. Ritchart, along with longtime FLC assistant Marty Pearce, remain with the team as assistant coaches.

"They are amazing guys and I think the three of us work really well together," Horner said.

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Forest Lake Christian (12-5, 5-0 CVCL) is halfway through its league schedule and have yet to be tested, beating their league foes by more than 27 points on average. The Lady Falcons have been especially strong on defense, allowing just 26.6 points per game against CVCL combatants.

"It's amazing," senior post player Johnna Dreschler said of how the season has unfolded. "At the beginning we didn't think we would have enough girls for a team. Then we scratched together enough girls and they all dedicated themselves to basketball. We have spent countless nights at sleepovers, team dinners and team bonding that we are all so close, and it translates really well on the court."

CRASHING THE BOARDS

Dreschler has led the FLC charge, dominating on both sides of the court. The 5-foot, 8-inch forward is averaging 14.9 points, 17.1 rebounds and 3.2 steals per game.

"Johnna is strong in all areas," Horner said. "Offensively and defensively she is consistent. When she's in there you can rely on her to be solid, score points and go after the ball."

Dreschler's rebounding this season has been unparalleled as she leads the entire Sac-Joaquin Section in that category.

"I definitely have a God-given gift for angles and that side of it," Dreschler said. "But a lot of it is just aggression. I know my job is to get the rebound. I know my spot and I know that ball is mine."

Dreschler was a standout player a season ago, but an injury ended her junior season after just 10 games.

She's happy to be healthy this season and excited to be playing alongside her sister, Jessi Dreschler.

"My sister is my best friend and the fact that she's here just makes my senior year that much better," Johnna said.

Jessi Dreschler, a sophomore, is also a strong rebounder, averaging 9.3 rebounds per game to go with 6.1 points per game and 4.1 steals per game.

"They just read each other," Horner said of the Dreschler sisters. "(Johnna) will drive up the middle, pass off to her sister, her sister passes back and it's right up for a layup."

ON GUARD

The FLC backcourt is ran by a trio of talented guards, including sophomore Amber Jackson, freshman Ellie Wood and senior Bella Horner.

"We just go out there and give it everything we got," said Jackson, who leads the team in steals with 4.6 per game and is second on the team in scoring with 11.4 points per game.

"The game makes sense to her," Valerie Horner said of Jackson. "She's fast and she's one of the better defensive players we've ever seen. She just takes it up another level."

Bella Horner is one of the team's four seniors and brings experience to the floor as well as being another strong defender. For the season Bella Horner is averaging 6.1 points per game, 4.9 rebounds and 3.5 steals.

Wood is the only freshman on the roster, but she's earned her varsity stripes this season, averaging six points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.8 steals.

As a team, the Lady Falcons are nabbing more than 18 steals per game on average.

DOWN THE STRETCH

Forest Lake Christian is a perennial playoff team, having reached the postseason in 11 of the last 13 seasons, but they haven't won a league title since 2008. If they continue their dominant run through league play they may be hanging a league championship banner once again. But the Lady Falcons aren't getting ahead of themselves.

"Of course our sights are set on (winning) league, but we take it one game at a time," said Johnna Dreschler. "We're not going to become complacent. We're going to work hard in every practice and hope to get that banner."

Forest Lake Christian has just six games left in the regular season, five of which are against league foes.

Next up is a road bout with Sacramento Waldorf on Friday. They then face second place Woodland Christian on the road Feb. 2 before stepping out of the CVCL to take on Futures. The Lady Falcons then host Foresthill Feb. 13 and close the regular season with a road game at Delta Feb. 14.

"I'm very proud of the girls," Valerie Horner said. "It's fun to watch them grow as a team and see how good they've become. They work hard, they want it and they go after it."

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.