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Falcons fly high

When word got back home to western Nevada County Friday night that the Forest Lake Christian Falcons had claimed their first boys basketball section championship, one couldn’t help but think back to where the program stood just four short years ago.

The first five games in David Thomas’ tenure as FLC’s coach weren’t exactly a promising start. The Falcons lost all five games – and not by small margins (the largest being a 28-point defeat to Marysville) – to begin the 2004-05 season.

It couldn’t have helped the Falcons’ morale much in that while they were struggling to find their own identity, the FLC girls program was in the middle of a run that produced three-straight section championships.



Clearly, on their south county campus just north of the Bear River, Thomas’ crew seemed to be just a sidebar story in a season that saw the Lady Falcons earn blazing banner headlines.

Yet ever the optimist, Thomas took solace in what he saw in practice, a group of guys working toward a common goal.




And that goal was by no means a section championship. At the time, putting a single “W” in the win column would suffice.

Though it might have been tough at the time, the Falcons believed what Thomas was telling them. And sure enough by New Year’s Day, Forest Lake had won four of its next six games and started Central Valley Christian League play with a 4-7 record.

By season’s end, Thomas and his Falcons had turned things around, finishing with a 14-13 record and a berth in the Division V playoffs.

Capping off that improbable run to the postseason, FLC went out and won its playoff opener before bowing out in the second round.

From that point forward, the Forest Lake program has worked toward the crowning achievement they earned Friday night.

And one of the Falcons wearing a medallion around his neck at Arco Arena has been there from the beginning. Andrew Ritchart, now FLC’s leading scorer, was the only freshman on the first roster Thomas put together. He actually got into just one game – but scored four points – during that turnaround.

Earlier this week, Ritchart sounded much like his coach back in his rookie campaign, when he told The Union: “It’s all about our desire. But I know in my heart we can do it.”

“What the mind can conceive and believe, the body can achieve.”

It’s an old saying that’s become as cliché as “taking ’em one game at a time” in the sports world. But there’s really a reason such sayings are repeated to the point that they become so cliché.

It’s the truth.

And the Forest Lake Christian Falcons, led by a coach who never stopped believing that they were building a winner, were just the latest to prove that once again.

“I like a quote that Stonewall Jackson made,” Thomas said after Friday’s night’s triumph. “He said the duty is ours but the consequences are God’s.”

ooo

To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail bhamilton@theunion.com or call 477-4240.


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