Forest Lake Christian boys will look to take hoops to next level
Last season’s edition of the Forest Lake Christian boys basketball team boldly went where no other Falcon team had gone before.
FLC breezed through the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoff bracket before its semifinal showdown with Trans Valley League power Ripon.
Up for grabs was not only a ticket to the finals at Arco Arena, but a place in school history.
The game came down to the wire, but the Falcons pulled it out. The win put FLC in its first-ever section championship game and, as one of the section’s top two teams, a berth in the NorCal Championships.
The Falcons ended their season on a down note with losses at Arco and in the first round of the NorCals.
That was then.
“Last year, our only goal was just to get to Arco,” said Falcon senior wing James Belch. “We got there, but I think we’re setting our standards a little higher this year. We want to get to state this year”
The Falcons (7-7 overall) will take their first steps toward a repeat trip to Arco when they open Central Valley Christian League as host to Sacramento Lutheran Thursday at 8 p.m.
“I’m not too worried about the playoffs right now. We’re more focused on playing hard every game. By the time the playoffs come around, they’ll be ready,” Falcon first-year head coach Davin Johnson said.
Johnson will look to his returning starters, Belch and sophomore guard Max Botner to lead the way.
Belch’s dead-on long distance shooting and ability to finish in transition earned him a reputation as one of the CVCL’s most dangerous scorers.
Botner – whom Johnson moved from the point to shooting guard this season – takes a dash of Belch’s outside touch and mixes in a flair for creating in the paint to give opponents headaches.
“Max played at point guard last year because he was the team’s best ball handler, but he’s a natural two guard,” Johnson said. “But I still use him to bring the ball up in certain situations.”
Six-foot, 5-inch post Colin Harman, who missed major minutes last season due to a variety of injuries, is back with a vengeance.
“He’s actually playing better than I’ve ever seen,” Belch said. “Last year kind of made him mad, and it’s made him play that much harder.”
Power forward Taylor Lawrence and point guard Sam Koopmans round out Johnson’s first five.
“Taylor can rebound and, at 6-foot-4, can shoot the three. It’s really big when your big guys can step out and hit the 3-pointer,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he also looks to guards Nate Cowing, Adam O’Brien and forward Drew Van Tassell to contribute this season.
FLC players and coaches alike point to defending CVCL and section champ Victory Christian of Carmichael as the big dog again this season. League newcomer Sacramento Lutheran and the emergence of Sacramento Waldorf will also make the road to Arco a bumpy ride.
“Victory graduated some players, but they’re still tough. We played Sac Lutheran in summer league, and I said then if they got some discipline, they’d be tough,” Johnson said. “So, the pressure is there (to repeat last season’s success), but our as long as they keep the intensity up and get better every game, there’s no reason why they can’t go further than last year.”
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Highly successful postseason runs come to an end for local Little League teams