Tough choices for Forest Lake Christian
The Forest Lake Christian girls basketball team faces a tough task every time they step on the court for a Central Valley Christian League game. Except the tough task is not its opponent, but rather how to let the team play basketball at the level it is capable of playing at while at the same time avoiding embarrassing the other team and running up the score.
Against Sacramento Lutheran, Steve Kellar and his Falcons were facing the league’s worst team, which had won only two games this season. The Falcons went into the game averaging nearly 40 points more per game and knew the matchup was lopsided at best. The final result was no prettier as the Falcons won by a score of 74-18.
At this point Kellar faces a decision: does he let his starters get out and run, press and play the kind of championship ball they can or does he pull the dogs off early and risk hurting his starting five’s conditioning and rhythm?
“There are about three teams in the league that will embarrass a team if they have the chance,” Kellar said. “We don’t ever want to do that. We would rather beat teams with class. Our school should be about demonstrating good Christian character.”
In basketball terms, Kellar means he will only play his starters for the first quarter and half of the third quarter and let his substitutes get the job done. What about that killer press the Falcons use? Oh no, he dare not unleash the press.
So how does this affect the starting five?
Instead of getting their bodies conditioned for 32 minutes of intense basketball, they usually only play 10-12 minutes per game and even during those minutes the girls aren’t exactly running on all cylinders.
Getting mentally prepared for intense state play-off games? No chance. The only benefit may be that by the time the playoffs roll around, the Falcons are so sick of holding back they almost explode onto the court during March.
“By the time playoffs start we are ready mentally,” senior Brooke Hodges said. “League games can get kind of boring, but you can’t stop playing. You can let up a bit and maybe not go for every steal, but you can’t stop altogether.”
In yet another crushing win, with Forest Lake Christian beating Sacramento Lutheran by nearly 60 points, the thanks go in large part to the players that come off the bench for the Falcons.
If league play is almost counter productive for the starting five, it has almost the exact opposite effect on the bench.
Players who may not normally earn extended playing time in playoff-type games, will see a large number of minutes during the league schedule – something that helps to make the team stronger in the long run.
That theory was true against Sacramento Lutheran in which backups Lora Courtney and Jessica Pearce shouldered much of the scoring burden. Courtney scored a game-high 15 points and Pearce added 11 points. Hodges also tallied 11 points while backup point guard Katie Fletcher scored nine points, all coming off three-pointers.
“It’s definitely a selling point for girls further down the bench that they will get to play a lot during league play,” Kellar said. “And if they do well, they will find themselves part of the regular rotation. It’s a good way to find the two or three bench players that are going to step up as the sixth, seventh and eighth men.”
And after games like the Sacramento Lutheran game, weekends filled with non-conference opponents are a welcome change of pace for the Falcons as Kellar can open the gates and let his players run free, like he knows they can.
Prep Box Score
Sacramento Lutheran-Forest Lake Christian Box score
Sac. Lutheran 3 5 9 1 – 18
FLC 17 26 16 15 – 74
Sacramento Lutheran (18)
Mortell 0 1-2 1, Ramierz 4 2-3 11, Ardisana 1 0-0 3, Walton 1 0-0 3, Stasinowky 0 0-0 0, MacMurphey 0 0-0 0, Rios 0 0-0 0. Totals: 6 3-518.
Forest Lake Christian (74)
Hodges 5 0-0 11, Lockhart 1 0-0 3, Fletcher 3 0-0 9, Clough 1 0-1 2, Wisniewski 3 0-0 6, Jacobs 3 0-0 6, Allen 1 0-0 2, Courtney 6 1-1 15, Kilgore 4 0-0 9, Pearce 5 0-0 11. Totals: 32 1-2 74.
Three-point goals – Fletcher 3, Courtney 2, Kilgore, Lockhart, Hodges, Pearce, Ramirez, Ardisana, Walton 1. Fouled out -None. Total Fouls – 9.
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The Little League District 11 postseason is off to a hot start.