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Take Me to Church

WEST WHITELAND — Church Farm basketball has been known recently for suffocating, pressure defense and a devastating transition game.

Thursday night at Church Farm, the Griffins harassed Holy Ghost Prep into a terrible 14 for 53 shooting night and forced 13 turnovers that hindered any offense they could muster.Offensively, the Griffins were led by superlative junior Jon Axel Gudmundsson, who led all scorers with 24 point and senior Mike Mohamed, who chipped in 14. This all added up to a very convincing 52-40 Bicentennial League win for the Griffins

Church Farm held the Firebirds (2-2 BiCentennial, 3-3 overall) to just three first-period points on 1 for 12 shooting. Holy Ghost was scoreless until the final minute of the period. The Griffins (2-1, 6-2) took a 9-3 lead after one, which grew to 26-18 at halftime.

“Coach always stresses defense first,’ Mohamed said. “Tonight he told us not to let them get into their sets because when they feel comfortable they are tough. So, we came out and did a good job of ball pressure and taking them out of their game.’

Mohamed, the lone senior starter for Church Farm, was responsible for directing the last four minutes of the game when the Griffins iced the basketball to run out the clock. Mohamed sees his role as not just a player, but a coach on the court.

“We have some international players and sometimes we are not on the same page, so I feel it is my job to get everybody knowing which man they have to defend and things like that. this is a much different team from last season when we had four senior starters, he added.’

Holy Ghost turned up its defense to start the second half as the Griffins missed their first five shots of the third. The Firebirds closed to within 26-20 early in the period. But, the Griffins went on a 9-0 run to blow the game wide open.

After a Fred Odhiambo blocked a shot, one of his game-high 10, Mohamed went strong to the hole for a 28-20 lead. Gudmundsson was fouled on a layup attempt and hit both free throws. Mohamed then stripped Mike Kirby, ran the floor, hit a layup and was fouled. Mohammed hit the free throw to make it 33-20. Then, after another Firebird turnover, Odhiambo took a pass from Mohamed and threw down a monster slam for a 35-20 lead to leve Prep reeling.

“We played real well at times tonight,’ Church Farm coach Marc Turner said. “We played real good defense and we did not let them get into running their stuff because they run their offense well. So we let them be uncomfortable tonight.’

Gudmunson, a junior from Iceland, who is in his first year at Church Farm shot seven for 10 from the field, including three long 3-pointers and dished out six assists.

“Jon Axel is a very special player,’ Turner said. “And he is a special kid, a great teammate and he is very efficient with the basketball. He is going to be really something for us.’

Church Farm kept up the pressure in the fourth as Holy Ghost Prep shot just six for 16. A 7-0 run at the beginning of the period stopped any comeback hopes the Firebirds may have had. Mohamed, Gudmundsson, Odhiambo all scored baskets and Tim Davis added a free throw that put the lead at 42-25.

“When we play good defense ,we win games,’ Gudmundsson said. “When we don’t play good defense, we lose games. It all starts with our defense and then everything else falls in.’

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