The Reporter (Lansdale, PA)
Faith Christian tops TCA for 2nd straight title
Izabella Forker was going to make the most of the final seconds of the third quarter.
From the top of the 3-point arc, the Faith Christian senior dashed toward the basket and while her initial shot was the mark, Forker grabbed the rebound for a putback just before the buzzer, giving the Lions a 34-21 lead over The Christian Academy in the Bicentennial Athletic League Tournament final.
“I got to thank my assistant coach for that, he’s always saying ‘Bella, play playground ball,’” Forker said. “So that just means don’t worry about whatever else is happening, just go in there and do your thing and drive, be aggressive.”
Ten seconds into the fourth, Forker scored and drew a foul to put Faith up 15. The Crusaders’ bid for a comeback cut the margin to seven but TCA could not pull any closer and Faith Christian claimed its second straight BAL postseason championship with a 40-33 victory Saturday afternoon at Morrisville.
“It feels very good,” Forker said. “Last year it was really hectic and that one was amazing but this year I felt pretty confident with our team and just the chemistry, that’s what makes this game fun especially with these girls they made this sport so much more fun than me.
“So to keep winning like this, it just shows you our work ethic and how far we’ve come but also you can tell how much fun we’re having on the court as well.”
Faith — which edged MaST Charter 36-35 in last season’s final — knocked down five 3-pointers in the first half to jump out to a 22-8 lead while it did a solid job in keeping TCA’s 6-foot-3 La Salle commit Amanda Bullard for controlling both ends of the court.
The task of guarding Bullard mostly fell on Kendall Garber but her job was aided by the Lions’ ball pressure that forced numerous turnovers,
limiting Bullard’s touches inside along with creating offensive chances for the Lions. Bullard scored all 12 of the Crusaders’ first-half points and finished with a game-high 18.
“We played TCA a few weeks back and it was also my job then,” Garber said. “And at that point it was like we were doubling down on her down low and now this time they kind of just say all right you got it, we’ll help you if they’re down there but it’s kind of your job today. So it was hard not to get into foul trouble but I did what I could.”
Forker paced Faith Christian (19-6) with 11 points, eight of those coming in the second half. Maddee Huber hit three of the Lions’ seven total 3-pointers to add nine points.
“I feel like in my first half I usually just take notes, mental notes,” Forker said. “And the second half I usually start to be comfortable and just drive more.”
Faith, which won the District 1-1A title and advanced to the PIAA quarterfinals last season, now competes in Class 2A and begins the district playoffs as the top seed hosting No.4 Calvary Christian in the semifinals 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Winner clinches a state berth and faces either No. 2 Sacred Heart or No. 3 Delco Christian in the final Saturday.
The Christian Academy (18-7) faces Jenkintown in the District 1-1A final Saturday.
The Lions took a 23-12 lead into halftime with an Autumn Landis three to start scoring in the third extending the margin to 14.
“It wasn’t just one player who was shooting well, it was multiple people,” Forker said. “I think that’s what spread them out so much that Amber wasn’t just in the block just blocking us all and everything. So I think it made it easier for us to just get comfortable when it wasn’t on one person to carry the team.”
TCA proceeded to get points from players other than Bullard — Lea Sareyka connecting on a trey, Gabi Smith with a basket and drawing a foul at 4:29 while two Teah Mack free throws at 3:58 capping a 7-0 run to pull the Crusaders to within 26-19.
Forker banked in a foulline jumper while a Garber foul shot at 2:31 had the Lions up 10. Sareyka made two free throws from a technical foul at 1:57 to make it 29-21 but Huber drained a triple before Forker’s putback pushed Faith’s advantage to 13.
A Forker basket off a drive and drew a foul to make it 36-21 at 7:50 in the fourth but TCA responded with eight straight points — six from free throws, including a pair by Mack with 3:48 remaining to pull the Crusaders within 36-29.
Forker converted on a drive to snap the TCA run but a Bullard basket had the margin again at seven. Garber, however, put back her own miss for a 40-31 Faith lead.
“After they made a run it was kind of like OK we need to get something going so that we can all get back in the mindset that this is our game. So I shot, it hit off the backboard and then I went back in, I was like all right I’ll just get the rebound and then shoot it myself.”
A Sareyka jumper made it 40-33 but those were the final points of the afternoon and Faith went on to celebrate its defense of the BAL tournament title.
The Christian Academy’s second and last lead came at 4-3 after a Bullard bucket with two Ava Lopez free throws at 4:21 in the first quarter then a Landis triple putting the Lions up 8-4.
Bullard scored and was fouled at 3:31 to make it 8-6 but a Huber 3-pointer then a basket by Forker gave Faith Christian a 13-6 lead at the end of the opening period.
Six straight points to start the second quarter had the Lions ahead 19-6 following an Aubrey Sauers free throw at 4:08. After a Bullard basket, Sauers drained a 3-pointer for a 22-8 Faith advantage.
Bullard collected the next four points before a Landis foul shot with 50.6 seconds left gave the Lions an 11-point lead at the break.
Faith Christian 40,
The Christian Academy 33
The Christian Academy 6 6 9 12 — 33 Faith Christian 13 10 11 6 — 40 The Christian Academy: Amber Bullard 8 2-4 18; Lea Sareyka 2 2-2 7; Teah Mack 0 4-6 4; Elle Cryan 0 2-3 2; Gabi Smith 1 0-1 2; Totals 11 9-16 33. Faith Christian: Izabella Forker 5 0-3 11; Maddee Huber 3 0-0 9; Autumn Landis 2 1-2 7; Aubrey Sauers 2 1-2 6; Kendall Garber 1 1-2 3; Mikayla Hissner 1 0-0 2; Ava Lopez 0 2-2 2; Totals 14 5-11 40.
3-pointers: TCA-Sareyka; FCA-Huber 3, Landis 2, Forker, Sauers.