PREP BASKETBALL: Forest Lake Christian rallies late, but falls short in D-VI title game | TheUnion.com

PREP BASKETBALL: Forest Lake Christian rallies late, but falls short in D-VI title game

STOCKTON — With the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-VI championship on the line, the Lady Falcons from Forest Lake Christian played with their usual tenacity and determination.

It just wasn't quite enough to pull out the victory against a talented and equally tenacious Ripon Christian squad Friday morning at the Alex G. Spanos Center located on the University of the Pacific campus.

The No. 1 seed Lady Falcons (20-6) and No. 3 seed Knights (17-12) battled fiercely for much of the game, but Ripon Christian pulled away down the stretch to win, 52-46, and take home the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-VI championship banner.

"They executed their offense phenomenally," FLC head coach Valerie Horner said of Ripon Christian. "I felt like our defense played pretty solid, but (Morgan Van Elderen) was unstoppable. The way they executed their screens on offense, we just weren't used to that."

The Lady Falcons controlled the game early on, getting a pair of 3-pointers from freshman Ellie Wood and grabbing an 8-5 lead after the first quarter.

Forest Lake Christian stumbled in the second quarter though, struggling to stop the balanced Ripon Christian offensive attack. The Knights got points from six different players in the second and outscored the Lady Falcons 20-10 to take a 25-18 halftime lead.

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Ripon Christian built upon its lead in the third, going up by as much as 13 points before the Lady Falcons started to charge back. FLC's Johnna Dreschler scored a couple buckets and Amber Jackson added two points at the end of the quarter to pull to within 35-28. Jackson was just getting started.

After a made free throw from Jessie Dreschler pulled FLC to within six, Jackson scored the next eight points to put the Lady Falcons ahead 37-35 with a little more than 5 minutes remaining. In all, it was a 15-0 run by FLC.

Ripon Christian responded with buckets by Ariel Vander Woude and Renae Heida to take a 40-37 edge. FLC's Johnna Dreschler scored an inside bucket to pull within one. After a Ripon Christian score, Johnna Dreschler again got position down low and netted two points to pull back to within one, but that would be as close as the Lady Falcons got the rest of the way. Ripon Christian scored the next eight points to put the game away.

"I want them to have pride in how victorious they have been this season and even today," Horner said of her team. "It was neck and neck, and we were evenly matched for the most part. We didn't win today, but that's nothing to be ashamed of. They left everything on the court."

Leading the Lady Falcons was senior captain Johnna Dreschler with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Jackson had a game-high 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting to go with seven steals. Wood sank three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points. Jessi Dreschler chipped in three points and nabbed seven steals. And, Bella Horner added two points and had three steals.

The Knights were balanced with four players scoring in double figures. Rilee Clark led the way with 11 points, including a 3-pointer that put Ripon Christian up by seven with a little more than a minute left. Kelly Engel, Heida and Vander Woude each scored 10. Van Elderen ran the Ripon Christian offense with precision and finished with six points, three assists and four steals.

Free throw shooting was also a big factor in the game as FLC went 3-for-9 from the charity stripe, and Ripon Christian was 11-for-15.

For FLC, this was its first trip to a section title game since 2006 when they lost to Modesto Christian. The last time the Lady Falcons won a section championship was in 2005, capping a run of three straight D-V titles. For Ripon Christian, this is the program's 12th section title, and first since 2002.

Despite the championship game loss, the season is not over for the Lady Falcons. By making it to the section's D-VI title game, the Lady Falcons will get a bid to the upcoming CIF NorCal girls basketball tournament. Brackets for the NorCal tourney will be released Sunday.

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

RIPON CHRISTIAN 52, FOREST LAKE CHRISTIAN 46

TEAM LEADERS

FLC: J. Dreschler – 14 points, 10 rebounds

FLC: A. Jackson – 16 points, 7 steals

FLC: E. Wood – 11 points

RC: R. Clark – 11 points

RC: R. Heida – 10 points

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