FLC hits big-time | TheUnion.com

FLC hits big-time

The moment the final buzzer sounded in the Forest Lake Christian girls basketball team’s 58-44 win over Modesto Christian in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V final at Arco Arena Friday, the little team that could earned the right to be mentioned in the same breath as the great Bear River and Nevada Union teams of the past.

FLC, which successfully defended its 2003 section crown with a starting team that consisted of four sophomores and a junior, hasn’t quite caught up to Bear River – winners of six-straight section titles in Division IV and Division III from 1993-98 and eight overall in 11 appearances – or Nevada Union with its five Division I titles in 10 appearances, including three-straight from 1989-91.

But the tiny Lake of the Pines school is off to a great start.

The Falcons, the 16th team in section history to win back to-back championships, have been a perennial playoff team as far back as anyone in the Royal and White can remember, but just couldn’t get past the section semis until 2001.

The Falcons ran Central Valley Christian League-rival Woodland Christian off the court at Modesto Junior College three season’s ago to earn their first ticket to Arco Arena and the section championship game. FLC lost a lopsided affair to Ripon Christian, which still holds the section record for championships with 11, but got a little revenge two seasons later.

FLC squeaked into last season’s final with a last-second win over Modesto Christian, then went on to unseat Ripon Christian as the area’s top Division V team with a 57-54 win.

With close to everyone returning, the Falcons entered this season as the odds-on favorite – from everyone from CalHiSports to the area’s major metro newspaper – to successfully defend their title.

They didn’t disappoint.

FLC bulldozed its way through its first three playoff opponents by an average of 43 points, including a convincing 66-50 win in the semis over its former tormentors, Ripon Christian.

Three days later, the Falcons inked their name into Western Nevada County sporting lore with its second-straight section title.

Drop FLC’s classic feel-good story of the underdog finally making good into the lap of any Hollywood producer worth his or her salt and you’ve got the makings for a feature film (ever hear of Hoosiers, Rocky or everybody’s favorite lil’ horsie Seabiscuit?).

Real sports fans took the accomplishments of that bunch of 14- and 15-year-old girls for what it was: a nice little story of how hard work and dedication pays off in the end.

Yet, there were some spoilsports out there unwilling to give these girls the credit they so richly deserved.

None moreso than The Sacramento Bee.

In a story that appeared on The Bee’s sports section front page around the holidays, the author was thinking out loud about rumors that claimed the only reason FLC made its way to the top was due to the recruiting of its top players.

Although he never had the guts to come right out and say it, the writer would have you believe Forest Lake Christian, which does have players who don’t call south county home, are the finest Division-V team money could buy.

What he forgot to mention is the fact that private schools, unlike their public counterparts, aren’t bound by rules which require them to enroll students from within certain district boundaries.

Among the sources in this little gem of ‘investigative reporting’ was the coach of FLC’s league rival Sacaramento Waldorf – the same coach who saw his team’s 109-game CVCL winning streak come to an end at the hands of FLC three seasons ago.

Hmmmm. No axe to grind there.

The truth of the matter is most of the girls had played together in a successful AAU program and simply wanted to stay together.

Despite such a public low blow, Falcon players, coaches and fans never complained to this reporter.

No phone calls or e-mails pleading their case.

They just turned the other cheek and went about the business of winning basketball games – including Friday’s, the biggest of all.

Keith Jiron is a sports reporter for The Union. He may be reached via e-mail at keithj@theunion.com or by phone at 477-4244.

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