MORRISVILLE >> Both Valley Forge Military Academy (VFMA) and Faith Christian Academy head into District Playoffs in the coming weeks as the No. 1 seed in their respective tournaments. Saturday, the two top teams met in the BAL Championship for what would hopefully be the first of many high stakes games in the next few months.
For three quarters just two points separated the teams, but an outstanding fourth gave VFMA the lead for good and the right to call themselves BAL champs with a 77-57 win.
“It’s amazing to see where this team has come,’ said VFMA head coach Francis Bowe. “Four years ago we were an independent team and we were getting our rear ends handed to us. Then we came to the BAL and it was the same thing. If you knew how hard these kids worked in the offseason and all season long you’d know why we’re all in tears. We’re a military school and we’re all crying, go figure. It’s the best feeling in the world.’
The final score is not necessarily a good barometer for the competitiveness of the game. VFMA shot out to a 30-19 lead midway through the secondquarter and it looked as though they would be pulling away for good, but Faith Christian head coach Tony DaCosta called a timeout, calmed everyone down, and made the necessary adjustments to chip away at the lead.
“I basically just felt like we needed to calm down, and I told them that,’ said DaCosta. “We were down a good amount and you want to get it all back and I get that, but we needed to just take it two points at a time. When I told the team that, told them that we just needed to lock down on the defensive end and make our own run that’s when we started to see our play improve.’’
Faith Christian followed their coach’s advice, locked down on the defensive end, and closed the gap to 39-34 as they headed into halftime.
That deficit was shrunken even further in the third, as Faith continued to tighten their grip and made it a 50-48 game as the Lions entered the 4th.
Landon Coyle was the Lions’ most consistent scorer all afternoon as the junior forward finished with 16 points.
It wasn’t just his scoring that made a difference. His ability to shoot from mid-range forced the Trojans’ big bodies on the inside to extend themselves, which opened up the paint for other Faith players.
In the end, it was turnovers that really hurt them. As they went into the final quarter down just two, VFMA was able to pull away by dominating in transition brought on by sloppy play from the Lions.
VFMA’s Myles Bunyon, who was the game’s leading scorer with 22, had 12 points in the final quarter and gave Faith fits all game. At just 5’9” the senior guard doesn’t look like he could take over a game but what he lacks in size he makes up for in extreme quickness and an ability to finish around the hoop.
“That transition play is something we always do, we always want to push the ball,’ said Bunyon. “Devin Hill is a guard and can pass well but he’s big, so he can go down and get the rebound and then find me on an outlet pass for an easy layup and that was there this afternoon.’
Both teams now head into district playoffs, Faith in District 1-A and VFMA in District 12-AAA, where they expect to continue the success they found in the regular season.
The loss doesn’t subtract from the great season Faith has had, but the Lions know that if they want to make a run in the postseason they have to improve.
“I know this team has it, we didn’t lose to a bad team here,’ said DaCosta. “Now we can go back, look what we did, and find out where we need to get better.’’
VFMA 77, Faith Christian Academy 57
VALLEY FORGE 16 23 11 27 – 77
FAITH CHRISTIAN 15 19 14 9 – 57
VFMA (77): Myles Bunyon 9 2-3 22, Arion Lewis 5 7-7 19, Will Colleran 4 0-0 8, Devin Hill 5 4-6 15, Marios Ntwari 5 0-0 10, Rye Ahronson 1 0-0 3.
Totals: 29 13-16 77
Faith Christian (57): Darius Forney 3 0-0 7, Miki Vitek 3 0-2 6, Landon Coyle 7 2-2 16, Charles Ervin 2 1-3 5, Zeke Snowden 6 4-4 16, Sawyer Smith 0 2-2 2, Anthony Sessa 1 0-0 3, Derian Bradford 1 0-0 2.
Totals: 23 9-13 57