De-cisive FLC defense shuts down Faith Christian
A dreadful development for the rest of Division V boys basketball teams came to light Friday night at Forest Lake Christian.
The host Falcons, who have averaged 75.1 points per game this season, suddenly seem to have stingy defense to go along with their high-octane offense.
Allowing a total of 10 first-half points to fifth-seed Faith Christian, No. 4 seed Forest Lake Christian had no trouble punching its ticket for the section semifinals with 80-52 second-round victory.
“I think if we can play defense like that, there are not going to be many teams that can beat us,” said FLC’s 6-foot, 6-inch sophomore Josh Ritchart, who had six blocked shots on the night. “We can go to Arco if we can play defense like that.”
The Falcons (20-9) had one of their lower-scoring starts, finishing the first quarter with 17 points, as opposed to the 28-point outbreak they put on the scoreboard in Wednesday’s playoff-opening win over Sacramento Adventist.
But FLC held Faith Christian to 1-of-12 shooting in the first period of play – not allowing a single point until the 1:33 mark of the quarter – and ran off a 12-0 start to the game.
By the end of the period, FLC led 17-3 and it was clear the visiting Lions were in for a long night.
“We knew what they liked to do, so we devised a defense to shut off their big scorers,” said FLC coach David Thomas. “The pressure we put on them forced them into some mistakes, I thought.”
Faith Christian (18-9) finished the first half with twice as many turnovers (20) than points on the scoreboard (10).
And while the Falcons were the picture of perfection on the offensive end over the first 16 minutes – totaling 15 turnovers of their own – the difference came on field-goal shooting.
Forest Lake found its rhythm in the second period, racking up 23 points to all but put the game on ice with the entire second half still to play. The Falcons found the bottom of the net on 16-of-27 attempts in the first half, while Faith finished with a 4-for-24 shooting performance.
The Lions were led by Cody Martin’s 18 points, 11 of which were scored against Forest Lake’s reserves in the fourth quarter, and 13 points from Carson Risenhoover.
Josh Ritchart led the Falcons with 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while all of FLC’s regulars saw limited play in the second half. His brother, Andrew, totaled 15 points in three quarters of floor time, while Pierce Azarcon, Ben Sparling and Johnny Umamoto each totaled 10.
Umamoto, who hit three 3-pointers on the night, played a key role by filling in at guard for senior Austin Maynard, who went down with an ankle injury early in the second quarter.
“He’s a great back-up point guard who came out and played hard,” Josh Ritchart said of Umamoto. “We all had faith in him that he could take care of business.”
While Thomas was also pleased with the spot play of the 5-6 junior, FLC’s head coach said the Falcons will need Maynard on the floor when the Falcons take to the floor at Galt High School Tuesday in the D-V semifinal.
“(Umamoto) did a great job,” Thomas said. “But if Austin is unable to go, Johnny doesn’t have the experience and defensive quickness that Austin has, so we need him back.
“From what we can tell, it looks like a high-ankle sprain.”
In earning the trip to the semifinals, the Falcons gave their fans a rare two-for-one trip to Galt Tuesday, where they will meet the winner of Friday night’s matchup between top-seed Sierra Christian and No. 8 Bradshaw Christian.
On Thursday night, Forest Lake’s girls team also secured a semifinals berth and a game at Galt on Tuesday, when they’ll tip off against Bradshaw Christian with a trip to Arco Arena also on the line.
To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4240.
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