Faith Christian stuns Phil-Mont in OT

SPRINGFIELD TWP. — Sometimes the third time’s the charm, at least that’s the case for the Faith Christian Lions as they beat the Phil-Mont Lady Falcons 38-36 in overtime of the BAL playoff semifinals after falling to them twice in the regular season.

Faith’s main goal was to keep junior first team All-BAL Constitution forwards Keyen Green and Tracey Goodman from dominating down low. They succeeded with half of that.

Green finished the night with 17 points and was dominant at times, but Goodman struggled from the field, shooting just 3-9 from the field and finishing with six points.

“Green kills us inside, we had to try and keep her 7 feet out and fight for position,’ said Faith head coach Dave Forker. “She’s so strong and so good and we just don’t have size to match up with her so our main focus was to put as much pressure as we could on the ball.’

However, unlike their previous two matchups with the Lady Falcons, Faith had an answer for Green. Their sophomore guard Ashley Forker was sensational, not only contributing 13 points on the night but finding teammates down low behind the Phil-Mont zone all game for easy buckets.

“She’s a great player and we struggle with helping and recovering, we get caught flat footed,’ said Phil-Mont head coach Bill Deheer. “We helped and it was an easy dish off as opposed to putting your hand out and dropping. A lot of it is technique and that’s why I say our emphasis is defense and figuring out how to do that well.’

For the early part of the game it looked like the Lady Falcons were in control. They lead 10-6 after the first quarter and were able to hold Faith to just one field goal in the quarter, but their offense hit a wall in the second.

They were managing to feed the ball down low to their star forwards and get good looks but the shots just weren’t falling, a fact that Deheer attributed to the tight man to man defense that Faith was playing.

“They’re going to come at you in that man and be in your face. I just think they dialed it up a notch for us tonight,’ he said. “Last time we played them we just pulled away but they decided they were going to take the chance of really coming out. You tell the girls when someone comes at you you have to clear space and we just didn’t do that consistently enough to demand their respect.’

Even with the missed shots, Phil-Mont managed to take a 27-24 lead into the fourth quarter and it looked as though it was going to be able to ride this one out. Then something changed.

“When we get gassed and we’re giving up that size and we don’t get our position on defense we just get killed every time,’ said coForker. “We gave up three easy transition baskets in the first half and we didn’t give that up in the second half and that’s why we were able to come back.’

Forker was able to find teammate Liz Hoffman underneath for some bug buckets down the stretch, then with 1:30 seconds remaining she hit a beautiful jumper to tie the game at 34-34 for the first time since the opening quarter.

“She leads us in everything, points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks she’s the heart and soul. She’s unselfish but she made a few big shots as well,’ said coach Forker. “She makes us tick and she’s just been huge for us all year.’

Even after that shot Phil-Mont had its chances win in regulation, but sloppy play on their end resulted in bad turnovers and an inability to get a good look before the fourth quarter ran out.

“We’re not making baskets,’ said Deheer. “That’s why it was a close game at halftime and then it just becomes a slugfest there at the end.

“Our mindset is to really hold teams defensively and have that flow in our offense. Our offense isn’t any mystery we have strong post play. We got the ball to the post but we just didn’t finish shots.’

Overtime was much of the same for them. An early bucket off an Ashley Forker assist gave Faith the 36-34 lead.

More sloppy play in the extra session eventually led to a 38-36 Faith lead with 1.1 second remaining and Lauren Tipton on the line for the Lady Falcons, shooting two, with a chance to tie the game.

Unfortunately, she missed the first and was called for a violation on the second as Phil-Mont suffered just its third loss of the season,.

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