PREP BASKETBALL: Forest Lake Christian girls crush Futures, win 6th straight in league play
The Lady Falcons from Forest Lake Christian take great pride in the way they play defense.
“You can always rely on defense,” said FLC senior guard Ali McDaniel. “Some days the shots might not be falling, so you always want to work hard on defense.”
The Lady Falcons put their defensive prowess on full display Friday night and earned a blowout win over the Futures Knights, 59-22, in a bout between the Central Valley California League’s top two teams.
“We had good defensive intensity tonight,” said McDaniel, who accounted for seven of the Lady Falcons’ 31 steals in the game. “We tried to hold them to as few points as possible.”
The win clinches at least a share of the CVCL title for the Lady Falcons (19-5, 9-1 CVCL). They can clinch their third straight outright title with a win in either of their final two league games.
“It’s really important. We all really want it,” senior guard Amber Jackson said of winning the CVCL banner. “Especially with it being our senior year, we want to go out strong.”
Forest Lake Christian set the tone from the jump, holding the Knights (14-6, 7-3 CVCL) to just two first quarter points. FLC’s suffocating defense often led to steals, fast breaks and easy layups on the other end. By halftime, the Lady Falcons led 37-7.
“We were staying low and we were making them go where they didn’t want to go,” said FLC head coach John McDaniel. “We run a specific style of man-to-man and it puts people in bad spots, and our girls have to work extra hard to do that. They did a great job of it.”
Futures, who beat FLC the first time they faced off in league play, scored eight straight points to start the third quarter, but the Lady Falcons quickly halted the run and reeled off 20 straight points to close the quarter with a 57-15 advantage.
For FLC, it was the seventh time in 10 league games in which they held their opponent to less than 30 points. The Lady Falcons are allowing just 25.6 points per game against league foes while scoring 60.9 points per game.
Leading the way was Jackson, who tallied a game-high 20 points to go with 12 rebounds, nine steals and four assists. Jackson has now scored 20 or more points in seven of her last nine games. She’s averaging 21.5 points per game for the season.
“Amber is amazing in the open court. She’s so fast and so controlled,” said John McDaniel.
Ali McDaniel also shined on the court, notching 11 assists, seven points, seven rebounds and seven steals. For the season, McDaniel is averaging 14.2 points per game, 7.7 rebounds, 5.8 steals and 5.2 assists.
“I don’t know if I’ve had a more well-rounded player,” said John McDaniel. “She rips boards, she assists and she scores points. What’s amazing about her is she does it all in the half court set. She doesn’t get a lot of fast break points.”
FLC senior post player Jessi Dreschler added six points and pulled down seven rebounds. Junior guard Ellie Wood tallied six points, seven steals and five rebounds. Freshman guard Sadie Whaley had 12 points, five rebounds, five steals, and four assists. Bella O’Neill, Trinity Schneider and Makenna Peterson all chipped in points as well.
“We’re full of experience, and the youngsters have really stepped up,” said John McDaniel. “It’s a lot of girls, doing a lot of good things.”
The Lady Falcons have now won six straight league games and have two CVCL contests left on the schedule. They are on the road at Victory Christian (5-12, 2-8 CVCL) on Tuesday and close out the regular season Friday at home against Woodland Christian (11-15, 4-7 CVCL). Playoffs tip off Feb. 18.
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FLC’s boys team suffered another tough loss in CVCL play, falling to Futures by three.
For the Falcons (10-14, 5-7 CVCL), it’s the eighth time a league game of theirs has been decided by five points or less. They are 4-4 in those games.
The Falcons started the contest strong, jumping out to a 25-15 lead after one quarter. Futures (7-17, 4-8 CVCL) charged back in the second and took a 36-35 advantage into halftime. FLC rallied to take the lead in the third quarter and held a three-point edge heading to the fourth. The Falcons pushed their lead to as many as six in the final frame, but Futures made several inside buckets down the stretch, including a put back with 11 seconds left to play to take a 56-55 lead. The Falcons missed a contested jumper on their end and Futures hit a pair of free throws to close it out.
FLC senior Luke Gilliland led the Falcons with 15 points. Simon Blackburn added 11 points. And, David Shumakker chipped in with 10 points.
The loss drops FLC out of contention for one of the CVCL’s three automatic playoff bids. They can still make the playoffs as an at-large team. “We got to just keep fighting and hope for the best,” said Falcons head coach Derek Gilliland.
FLC is on the road at Victory Christian (12-9, 7-5 CVCL) on Tuesday and closes the regular season Friday at home against Woodland Christian (17-9, 10-2 CVCL).
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4232.
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