EAST ROCKHILL >> Stifling defense early and steady contributions from Charles Ervin and Landon Coyle throughout powered Faith Christian to a convincing 59-41 victory over Church Farm Thursday night in the Bicentennial Athletic League semifinals.
“We came out knowing Church Farm and knowing they had two shooters and a big guy,” said Ervin, who scored 16 points in the victory. “When we shut them down, we knew we had it.
“Faith basketball is defense. We can have an awful night of offense but if we just come back strong on defense, that’s all we need.”
The Lions’ offense was also looking pretty good, as Faith (23-2) advances to a 1 p.m. final against Valley Forge Military Academy on Saturday at Morrisville.
Ervin scored five points in the fourth quarter to help the Lions put things away and Coyle added 15 in the contest and Mikulas Vitek had 11 in another balanced performance.
“Our main idea is to run but to do it under control,” said Ervin, whose team led by at least 14 the entire second half. “If we can’t get out running, we just wanna set up our offense and put the ball in the hoop.”
Veniukevius and Faustas Kulbickas got hot in the second half for the Griffins, cutting into the Faith lead, but Faith was always able to buckle down on defense and transition points were usually the result. Snowden fed it to Ervin for an easy two and after another stop, Ervin drove to the hoop, scored and was fouled, completing a three-point play that gave the Lions a 58-39 lead, the crowd sensing a victory was secure.
“We wanted to make sure we took care of the basketball,” Faith coach Tony DaCosta said. “Church Farm plays hard, they play aggressive and we wanted to make sure we took care of the basketball. I don’t think we did as good a job as I would like us to, but we weathered the storm when they did come at us, and that was key.”
In the opening moments, Snowden set up Ervin for an open jumper and then Vitek scored off a turnover as Faith jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead.
Faith’s intensity on the defensive end surfaced right away, with Snowden and Sawyer Smith — and sometimes others — blanketing the 6-foot-11 Jon Bol Ajak (9 pts) and making it tough for him to find his way to the basket.
Ervin scored off a rebound and Coyle scored in transition for the Lions, the lead ballooning to 17-5 by the end of the first quarter.
Ervin dominated the second quarter. He hit a pullup jumper to immediately extend the lead to 19-5 then moments later found some open space to hit a mid-range jumper, stretching the margin to 25-5.
Ervin drove through defenders for another basket, as Faith continued to control things, up 29-10 heading towards the half. Getting contributions from the bench, Faith made it a 31-13 lead at the break, as Owen Bradford hustled to a loose ball and dished to Vitek for an easy two.
Veniukevius led Church Farm with 15 points but Faith never let the game out of its grasp.
“In past years, I’ve been here three years and I took too many L’s in the past,” Ervin said of getting a chance to play in the BAL Final Saturday. “(Fellow senior) Zeke Snowden and I, we’re tired of losing. We want it more than anyone else in the league.”