BENSALEM >> It took an extra four minutes, but Faith Christian Academy did it.
The Lions won their first District 1-A championship in school history with a 48-46 overtime victory over Girard College Saturday at Bensalem High School.
Top-seeded FCA and No. 2 Girard College traded baskets in overtime until the Cavaliers tied the game at 46 with 38 seconds to go. Lions senior Sawyer Smith got the ball beyond the arc along the left wing with less than 10 seconds remaining. He pump-faked to get his defender off his feet and drove to the basket for the game-winning lay-in.
Sawyer Smith at the buzzer! 48-46 Faith wins! pic.twitter.com/RL3KcSGN4J
— Ed Morlock (@emor09) March 3, 2018
“It was euphoria,” Smith, who scored all eight of Faith’s overtime points, said. “I’ve been waiting for this for my whole high school career. This is the top. This is the peak.
“My teammates were finding me, giving me good looks,” Smith added about the fourth quarter. “I had a couple good passes from Charles (Ervin), just giving me good opportunities right in front of the basket. I just had to finish them off for them.”
Girard’s Aquil Stewart’s last-second full-court heave came up empty and the Lions celebrated their title over the team that beat them twice last year in the District 1 title game and state semifinals.
“Perfect situation,” Faith coach Tony DaCosta said. “We ran the play that we like to run and it got the basket we wanted — the winning basket.”
The game was tight throughout. The largest difference was six points. Faith jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first quarter and a 33-27 edge after the first possession of the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter started with a Landon Coyle three. The Lions senior captain scored all eight of his points in the fourth. He played the entire fourth and overtime with four fouls.
“I got angry,” Coyle said of his fourth quarter. “The refs made a couple questionable calls. I just stepped up. Teammates were finding me, getting open looks, just like Sawyer said. I was able to knock them down.
“There were a couple times (in the fourth quarter) when I could have jumped up and tried to block a ball but I backed off. You just have to play smarter when you’re in foul trouble because the team needs you on the floor. That’s what I tried to do and I was able to stay in the game for the rest of the game.”
Coyle hit another three with just over three minutes left in regulation to give FCA a 40-36 lead, but after the teams traded offensive fouls, Girard’s Stewart made it 40-38 with two free throws and Mikael Jones tied the game with 1:35 to go.
The Cavaliers had a chance to win at the end of regulation. With 50 seconds left, Jones held the ball uncontested for 40 seconds before getting the offense into motion. Stewart had a decent look from three that wouldn’t fall and Faith’s Ervin’s last-second full-court shot was off.
Faith’s Darius Forney helped his side take advantage late in the third quarter, scoring five straight to turn a 26-25 deficit into a 30-26 lead. He hit a pair of technical free throws before grabbing a defensive rebound, dribbling up the floor and stepping into a healthy three-pointer. He finished the game with seven points, 11 rebounds and three assists.
The second quarter belonged to Faith’s Owen Bradford. He scored six of his 10 points in the quarter to help send the game to intermission tied at 17.
“He was unbelievable” DaCosta said. “That’s why we say when you have a team it’s a blessing to have depth. I don’t think that gets noticed by the stands or people or fans, but as coaches we love depth because when you have guys get in foul trouble you need other guys to come off the bench and step in. Clearly Owen’s done that throughout the year. Isaiah (Robinson), David Forscht — all these guys come off the bench and have a role to play. They’re given a role and they need to step up when they come into the game. (Bradford) was no different. He’s been consistent all along.”
“Owen came up huge for us,” Coyle said. “Whenever one of us (Coyle and Smith) had to get subbed, we’re not scared to put in Owen. A lot of times he’ll raise the bar, then we have to come in and do better than him. He definitely stepped up for us when we got in foul trouble and it’s great to have him on our team.”
Jones led Girard College with 22 points and nine rebounds. He scored all six of the Cavaliers points in overtime.
Faith Christian 48, Girard College 46
Girard College 9 8 10 13 6 — 46
Faith Christian 8 9 13 10 8 — 48
GC: Stewart 2 2-2 7, Smith 1 0-2 2, Jones 7 7-12 22, Logan 4 0-0 8, Carson 2 3-5 7. Total 16 12-21 46.
FC: D Bradford 1 0-0 2, Forney 2 2-2 7, Coyle 3 0-1 8, Ervin 2 0-0 4, Forscht 1 0-0 3, Smith 5 3-4 14, O Bradford 5 0-0 10. Total 19 5-7 48.
Three-point goals: GC: Stewart, Jones. FC: Forney, Coyle 2, Forscht, Smith.
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