WEST WHITELAND >> You have to do some elementary things to win basketball games. One of those things is taking care of the basketball on every possession.
Tuesday night at Winters Gymnasium, the host Collegium Charter Cougars failed to do that in the fourth quarter, turning the ball over six times in the period, including on four consecutive possessions, and it added up to a come-from-behind, 51-46, Bicentennial League win for Church Farm School.
Church Farm (7-4 Bicentennial, 9-7 overall) led from the start of the game until early in the fourth, when the Cougars (4-7, 9-12) took their first lead of the night on a Massai Hams 3-pointer to make it a 34-33 game with just over six minutes to play. Hams was the big threat for the Cougars, scoring a team high 17 points, including three treys.
But, Church Farm turned up the defense, going to a switching man to man defense and the Cougars unraveled against the change in tactics. The Griffins’ Reggie Phifer, who led all scorers with 22 points, said he liked the change in defense.
“We like to play man to man,” Phifer said. “We are really quick with our feet and we don’t like to play zone. I liked it when coach (Jonathan Guarante) changed defense. I feel we have some of the quickest defenders around and tonight it turned the game back in our favor.”
Collegium Charter had all the momentum after trailing the entire game, and when Hams drained his third 3-pointer of the night to give the Cougars a 38-35 lead with 4:16 to play, it looked like the Cougars would roll from there. Church Farm shot a frigid two for 14 from the field in the third period, aiding the Cougars’ comeback. Collegium Charter outscored the Griffins, 14-9, in the third period.
But, Phifer hit a runner to make it a 40-38 Collegium Charter lead. Duce Jackson buried a medium range jumper for the Cougars to make it a 42-38 game. After Mamadon Sissko hit two free throws to cut the Cougars’ lead to 42-40, the turnover fest started. In four straight possessions, the Cougars turned the ball over, and when the disastrous run ended, the Griffins held a 47-42 lead with just 1:01 to play.
“We really turned up the intensity,” Guarante said. “We were not having the best offensive night and on those four possessions we went to a switching man-to-man defense and the kids really showed a lot of resilience tonight.”
Collegium Charter was not done. Down 47-42, the Cougars’ Kamari Miller drove to the hole, got fouled and hit two free throws, and it was a 47-44 game with 46 seconds to play. After a Church Farm missed shot, the Cougars got to the line again, and this time Dinero Washington hit two free throws and it was a 47-46 Church farm lead with just 20 seconds to play.
After a quick Collegium Charter foul, Josh Brooks hit two free throws to make it a 49-46 game. After a Collegium timeout, the Cougars missed two medium range shots and Phifer was fouled with 3.4 seconds to play. He drained both for the 51-46 final.
“We practice free throws all the time and we did not do too well tonight,” Phifer said. “But, when it got down to the critical time in the fourth quarter we came through to get the win.”
Church Farm 51, Collegium Charter 46
CHURCH FARM (51): Johnson 3 7-12 13, Jimenez 1 0-0 2, Brooks 0 2-2 2, Young 1 2-3 5, Toledo 0 0-2 0, Phifer 7 5-6 22, Sissko 0 7-8 7. Totals 12 23-31 51.
COLLEGIUM CHARTER (46): Miller 6 2-2 15, Washington 3 6-01 12, Lawrence 0 0-0 0, Warren 0 0-0 0, Garcia 0 0-0 0, Hams 6 2-2 17, Jackson 1 0-0 2, Gallimore 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 10-14 46.
Church Farm 11 13 9 16 – 51
Collegium Charter 8 9 14 15 – 46
3-point goals: Miller, Hams 3, Young, Phifer 3.
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