PREP BASKETBALL: Forest Lake Christian set to face Valley Christian for D-VI championship
At a glance
Forest Lake Christian
Overall record: 22-5
MaxPreps rank (SJS D-VI): 2
Current win streak: 13
Points per game: 50.7
Points allowed per game: 36.2
Past SJS championships: 2003, 2004, 2005
Overall record: 25-3
MaxPreps rank (SJS D-VI): 1
Current win streak: 6
Points per game: 58.4
Points allowed per game: 38.6
Past SJS championships: 2014, 2015, 2017
With a dedication to hard work and a passion for playing lockdown defense, the Lady Falcons from Forest Lake Christian are back in the Division VI title game and will tip off two straight days of high school championship contests today at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.
The No. 1 seed Lady Falcons (22-5) are pitted against No. 2 Valley Christian (25-3) in a matchup of league champs who have dominated their opponents for much of the season.
FLC swept through the Central Valley California League, going 14-0 to win its second straight league title and comes into today’s championship bout riding a 13-game winning streak.
The Valley Christian Lions claimed the Sacramento Metropolitan Athletic League and has won six straight, including double digits wins over Stockton Christian and Sacramento Waldorf in the playoffs.
They are led by 5-foot, 9-inch senior Bernada Rreshpja, who is averaging 27.2 points per game this season. Rreshpja, who formally played for the Under-16 Albanian National team, was especially impressive in Valley Christian’s playoff win over Stockton Christian, scoring a season-high 44 points.
The Lions also have a scoring threat in freshman Grace Williams, who is averaging 12.6 points per game.
As a team, the Lions average 58.4 points per game while allowing just 38.6.
FLC head coach John McDaniel is confident his team will be prepared to play.
“I know they’re up to the challenge,” FLC head coach John McDaniel said to The Union after his team topped Ripon Christian in the semifinals.
The Lady Falcons boast a capable offense, which averages 50.7 points per game, but pride themselves on defense where they allow just 36.2 points per game.
“For us, it’s always about defense,” McDaniel said earlier this week. “We’ve been good on defense all season and we want to keep that up.”
The Lady Falcons defense is led by Amber Jackson, who is one of three active players back from last season’s D-VI runner up team. The tenacious junior guard leads FLC in steals with 5.3 per game, and also leads the team in scoring with 16.7 points per game.
FLC also has strong all-around players in senior forward Lily Sween, junior guard Ali McDaniel, sophomore guard Ellie Wood and junior guard Bella O’Neill. Sween is a force in the paint and leads the team in rebounding with nine per game to go with 15.4 points and 3.6 steals. Ali McDaniel is a skilled guard who leads the team in assists per game with 4.5 to go with 10.4 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.9 steals. Wood is hard-working guard who adds five points per game, grabs 6.5 rebounds and 2.9 steals. O’Neill is another gritty guard for the Lady Falcons, who doesn’t score much but plays stellar defense and crashes the boards hard.
The last time FLC won a section title was in 2005, the last of three straight in Division V. The Lady Falcons have been to one section championship in D-VI, coming last season when they fell to Ripon Christian, 52-46.
Valley Christian has more Sac-Joaquin Section D-VI titles than any other girls team, having won three (2014, 2015, 2017) since the division came into existence in 2012.
Other girls championship bouts include No. 1 Bear Creek facing No. 3 St. Mary’s in the D-I championship at 6 p.m. Saturday. Division II features a matchup between No. 1 Antelope and No. 2 Sacramento at 6 p.m. today. Sacramento is coached by Nevada Union grad Michele Massari, who will be looking to lead the Dragons to their fifth section title since she took over the program in 2008. In Division III, it’s No. 8 seed Bradshaw Christian, who beat Nevada Union in the semifinals, facing off with No. Christian Brothers at 2 p.m. Saturday. The D-IV matchup is No. 4 Union Mine, who upset No. 1 Colfax in the semifinals, taking on No. 2 West Campus at 2 p.m. today. In D-V, No. 1 Mariposa is set to battle it out with No. 2 Argonaut at 10 a.m. Saturday. All girls and boys basketball championship games will be at the Golden 1 Center.
Over on the boys side, the D-I championship features No. 1 Sheldon against reigning D-I champ and No. 3 seed Modesto Christian at 8 p.m. Saturday. Modesto Christian beat Sheldon, 60-56, in the title game last season. In D-II, it’s No. 1 Grant against No. 3 St. Mary’s at 8 p.m. today. The D-III battle pits No. 1 Weston Ranch against No. 3 Central Catholic at 4 p.m. Saturday. In D-IV, No. 1 Liberty Ranch, who topped Bear River in the second round, is set to face No. 2 Sonora at 4 p.m. today. The D-V matchup is No. 1 Brookside Christian taking on No. 2 Argonaut at noon Saturday. In D-VI, it’s No. 8 seed Turlock Christian matching up with No. 3 Vacaville Christian at noon today.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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