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Faith Christian wins eighth straight, stifles Calvary Christian

Faith Christian's Landon Coyle rebounds the ball during the first half against Calvary Christian of Tuesday, Jan 2, 2018, nights game at home against Calvary Christian Academy on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018. (Debby High/For Digital First Media)

EAST ROCKHILL >> It was organized frenzy, as Faith Christian’s 1-3-1 defense pried the game wide open and the Lions were fast breaking their way to an 80-38 victory over Calvary Christian Tuesday night.

“That’s what we practice — push out and run and just keep getting up and down the floor,” said senior 6-foot-3 power forward Landon Coyle, “but under control at the same time.”

Faith’s defense took the game over, especially in the second and third quarters, and what was a 17-point halftime lead ballooned to 35.

“It’s always gonna start with defense and end with defense,” said Lions coach Tony DaCosta, whose team won its eighth in a row to run its record to 8-1. “I thought we did a phenomenal job making sure we had good ball pressure.

“I thought the guys did an excellent job with their intensity, making sure we came out the first three minutes of each quarter focused and mentally ready to play. And get the job done, and they did that tonight.”

Faith Christian’s Charles Ervin jumps to score during the first half against Calvary Christian on Tuesday, Jan 2, 2018. (Debby High/For Digital First Media)

Faith improved to a perfect 5-0 in the Bicentennial Athletic League, the defense nailing things down and allowing just 16 second-half points.

The Lions also got nine or more points from seven different players, including Coyle, who hit a pair of threes and got to the hoop in style for a game-high 17 points.

“My teammates trusted me even though I missed my first couple shots,” Coyle said, “so I just had to stay confident. I started knocking ‘em down and getting to the free-throw line. That was big.”

Charles Ervin added 11 for Faith and Darien Bradford and Sawyer Smith each had nine. The bench also provided 33 points, with David Forscht scoring 11 and Owen Bradford and Darius Forney each adding 10.

“What helps us most is the practices,” DaCosta said. “The fact that we can compete well in practice to get that good preparation for the game (makes a difference).

“If you have five good players and five not-so-good players in a practice setting, it’s hard to get your team ready because you’re not really playing against the level of competition you’re gonna play in the game. So this has been perfect preparation for us to get ready for the games.”

Faith Christian’s Landon Coyle rises to the net during the first half against Calvary Christian on Tuesday, Jan 2, 2018. (Debby High/For Digital First Media)

Bradford established himself early.

The small forward scored the Lions’ first seven points, including a three in transition that provided a quick 7-0 lead.

Coyle also hit a three for Faith in the opening quarter, helping to build the lead up to nine.

The Lions’ defense dug in after that.

Converting turnovers into easy points, Faith ran its lead to 17 points. Forney was strong off the bench and busy on the defensive end.

Said DaCosta: “He has Division 1 quickness and athleticism, and when he uses that intelligently, he’s a dangerous player to have on the floor. He’s great for us, and I’m sure other teams would rather not see him.”

Faith Christian’s Darius Forney rises above Calvary Christian’s defense during their game on Tuesday, Jan 2, 2018, (Debby High/For Digital First Media)

The senior hit a pullup jumper in transition, soon after hit from the outside, and then came up with a steal and dished to Ervin, giving Faith a 31-14 advantage.

Ervin would grab another steal and take it in for two, helping to give the Lions a 39-22 cushion at the break.

By design, the defense created even more havoc after halftime. Calvary’s leading scorer was Tristan Hahn with nine.

“We’re on a roll and we gotta keep going,” Coyle said. “Obviously it feels great but we’re looking for a championship. That’s the destination.”

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