Dock Mennonite stuns top-seeded Faith Christian in OT, advances to BAL final

EAST ROCKHILL >> With the final seconds of a frantic fourth quarter ticking away, Dock Mennonite’s Miz Nyagwegwe saw a crease in the lane and burst through it, laying it up and in to send his team to overtime against rival Faith Christian.

From there, the Pioneers had gained a mental edge they would never relinquish.

“We knew we had ‘em on the ropes,” Nyagwegwe said. “We were just fighting and we knew we had to play defense in order to win in overtime.”

Dock’s defense didn’t allow a point in OT. Nyagwegwe’s game-high 20 points and a terrific defensive performance, particularly Nolan Bolton’s effort against the dangerous Darius Forney, powered Dock to a rousing 56-53 overtime victory over top-seeded Faith in the semifinal round of the Bicentennial Athletic League Tournament.

The win sends No. 5 Dock to the BAL final, Saturday at 1 p.m. at Morrisville to take on No. 3 Valley Forge Military Academy.

Faith Christian’s Sawyer Smith rises to block Dock Mennonite from scoring during their BAL semifinal on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2019. (Debby High/For Digital First Media)

“Coach (Mike Fergus) never won here before so we really wanted this one for him. We all played hard. We had a rough first half but we came out fighting in the second half,” Nyagwegwe said.

“Our guys just kept battling. I’m so proud of them,” Fergus said. “I’m happy for them.

“For us to win on the road like that showed a lot of heart. This team just refuses to quit.”

Jackson Scialanca added 11 points for Dock and Bolton and Darius Ellis each had 10. Balanced too was the effort at the other end.

“Our defense in the second half was outstanding, right to the end,” Fergus said.

In a battle of District One top seeds, Dock (21-4) built a four-point lead in the fourth, going up 49-45 on a score off a rebound by Ellis.

Back came the Lions (23-2), who cut it to 49-47 when Owen Bradford came down with a loose ball and fired it up and in.

Faith Christian’s Darius Forney scores in the first half of the Lions’ BAL semifinal against Dock Mennonite on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. (Debby High/For Digital First Media)

David Forscht made one of three foul shots and Bradford hit a pair, putting Faith ahead 50-49 with a minute to go.

Later, Landon Coyle hit two free throws for the Lions to make it 52-49 with 34 seconds left.

Nyagwegwe would keep coming through for Dock.

He scored off a rebound of a potential game-tying, three-point attempt by Bolton, cutting the deficit to 52-51. Josh Forker made one of two free throws for Faith, providing the Lions a 53-51 lead.

There were five seconds remaining, and the inbounds pass went to Nyagwegwe.

Said the senior: “Coach (Fergus) just told me to try and get it to the hoop and that’s what I did. I had a little crease in the lane and saw an opening, so I took it and luckily it went in.”

The game charged into OT, and fittingly it was Nyagwegwe who put Dock in front for good, sinking two foul shots to make it 55-53.

Dock Mennonite’s Darius Ellis makes his way to block Faith Christian’s Owen Bradford during their BAL semifinal on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. (Debby Hig/For Digital First Media)

Bolton intercepted a Faith pass, was fouled, and hit one of two to boost the gap to 56-53. Nyagwegwe came up with a defensive board with three seconds to play, and headed to the line.

Although he then missed his two foul shots on a rough night at the line for both teams (Dock made 11-of-26 free throws, Faith 14-of-23), Dock held on. Coyle’s desperation three from midcourt banged off the backboard, sending the Pioneers into jubilation.

Down seven at halftime, the Pioneers rallied back for their second straight road victory, impressive wins at Holy Ghost and at Faith propelling them into the championship game.

With two players fouling out, Dock got key contributions from reserves like Troy Vasey, and an inspired effort from Nyagwegwe.

“He didn’t play his best first half and I kind of challenged him at halftime,” Fergus said. “He stepped up in the second half and played a great second half.”

Faith, playing without senior guard/forward Charles Ervin, came close to a victory but could not hold on in the fourth. Forney led the Lions with 15 points and Bradford added 12.

Faith Christian’s Darius Forney puts up a shot during the Lions’ BAL semifinal against Dock Mennonite on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. (Debby High/For Digital First Media)

Said coach Tony DaCosta: “I’m proud of the guys. You gotta figure we’ve been playing with seven or eight guys and they’ve been kind of holding the fort down.

“(Dock’s) a good team. The things we were supposed to execute, we didn’t, and they capitalized, and that’s what good teams are supposed to do. (On the final play of regulation, Nyagwegwe) made a great play attacking the basket. We didn’t stop the ball like we were supposed to. We gotta do a better job of stopping the ball and not letting it get that deep, because any time you do that, you put yourself at risk.”

Early on, a three by Scialanca and back-to-back baskets by Nyagwegwe helped Dock build a 7-2 lead.

Faith got going, with a pair of jumpers by Forney finding their mark and a twisting, weaving layup by Forney — along with a free throw for the three-point play — pushing the Lions ahead 11-9.

Bradford capped off a fast break for Faith to later stretch the lead to five but Dock closed to 16-15 by the end of the first quarter, six points by Nyagwegwe in the period leading the way.

The Pioneers drew even at 18 apiece with a three-point play off a drive down the lane by Bolton, but then David Forscht drained a three at the other end moments later to put Faith ahead.

A tremendous burst by Forney created a lane to the basket and another two, and soon Landon Coyle pulled up to hit a three and push the Lion advantage to eight.

Faith would go into the half up 32-25.

Faith Christian’s David Forscht and Dock Mennonite’s Ralph St. Fleur battle over the ball during their BAL semifinal on Thursday, Feb . 15, 2018. (Debby High/For Digital First Media)

“In the first half, we were allowing too much penetration,” Fergus said. “Forney was killing us. So we made a switch and put Nolan on him. He’s our best defender and he did a really good job on (Forney). He kind of neutralized him after he hurt us bad in the first quarter.

“We had been giving up too much middle penetration and that led to some threes. In the second half, we did a much better job.”

The Pioneers didn’t allow a three after the break.

Scialanca scored six in the third to bring the Pioneers within 42-40, setting up a tremendous fourth quarter.

Nyagwegwe sent the game into OT and the Pioneers onto the BAL Final.

“This is really huge for all of us,” he said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply