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Expect trouble

Today the Falcons have a chance at school history.

Forest Lake Christian’s boys basketball team plays No. 2 seed Brookside Christian in the Division V Sac-Joaquin section playoffs for a chance at the school’s first section title.

But the path to the championship comes directly through a school that embodies a mainstay program with a 1998 section title (57-48 win over Faith Christian) in their back pocket. Brookside Christian also was the section runnerup in 2000, an 89-68 loss to Calvary Temple.



The Knights (21-3) have made three appearances to the section tournament in the last four years, losing in the second round in 2005 and 2006 before breaking through to the top again this year.

The Falcons (21-9), in turn, have appeared in the section tournament the last three years, losing in the first and second rounds. FLC was also the section’s runnerup in 2001, losing to Victory Christian 53-38.




“They’ve been a dominant team through the years,” FLC coach David Thomas said. “They’ve given Forest Lake many-a-beating through history.”

But as much as Brookside’s program has a history of success, even against the Falcons, its players are parlaying this season into a statistical masterpiece.

Paris Hill, the center piece of the Knights’ offense, is averaging 27.3 points per game and topping it off with 10.4 rebounds an outing. Guard Quinton Burse averages 10.5 points per game, 6.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists to complement him. Along with Rodney Brown (12.5 ppg) and David Scott (10.2 ppg), the Knights have four players that average double figures in a team that scores 77.9 points per game – etching ahead of the Falcons who average their own whopping 75.5 points per game.

“I see we’re pretty much well matched, they have a lot of speed we have a lot of speed,” said Brookside coach George Carter, a first-year coach for the Knights. “They have a pretty good big man inside (and) pretty good point guards. We’re not overlooking no one. We’re going to go in there with confidence.

“I see it being a defensive game more than anything,” Carter continued. “I tell my kids, defense wins championships. Offense gets the glory. We can’t sit there and trade baskets.”

Thomas agrees.

“Our ability to play defense, at least to lower their shooting percentage, is critical to our success,” he said.

The Knights crash the boards well and shoot a high percentage. For the Falcons to win they’ll have to block off shooters and contain their guards so Brookside Christian won’t be able to penetrate and dish easy, Thomas said.

“Their inside man (Hill), I think he’s shooting 80 percent,” Thomas said. “That guy is going to score.”

Andrew Ritchart remains the Falcons’ leading scorer, averaging 15.3 ppg and adding 7.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3 steals per game. His brother, Josh Ritchart, posts 14.9 ppg, 8.6 rebounds and 5.8 blocks every game.

Ben Sparling (13.8 ppg) and Austin Maynard (12.2 ppg) round out FLC’s top scorers, with Sparling providing an extra bump defensively with 4.2 steals per game.

The Knights come into the game winners of 18 straight, beating Trinity Prep (80-33), Sacramento Waldorf (77-61) and Big Valley Christian (73-70) en route to the title game.

FLC, the No. 4 seed, has won eight straight games, beating Sacramento Adventist (91-63), Faith Christian (80-52) and No. 1 seed Sierra Christian (79-61) to make it to the section title match.

If neither defense steps up to the plate, Thomas has an answer for that too.

“We need to break their press and execute,” he said. “I think we have been executing our offense fairly well lately.

“But hey, if they shut us down that would decide the game. And the same for us. If we shut their offense down, that decides the game.”

ooo

To contact Sports Writer Zuri Berry, e-mail zberry@theunion.com or call 477-4244.

Championship Info:

Forest Lake Christian (21-9) vs. Brookside Christian (21-3) at Arco Arena, 5:30 p.m.

Pricing

ADMISSION: $15/adults, $8/students

PARKING: Autos-$10; Buses-$25

Webcast

Listen live online to all four championship games on http://www.kbcsports.com.

Live stats

View live stats for all games at Arco Arena. To view up to the minute stats, visit http://www.ciflive.com


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