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Faith Christian Academy’s comeback falls short in PIAA-2A quarterfinal loss

EXETER >> Faith Christian Academy wasn’t panicking when it trailed Montrose by 12 points at halftime or when the deficit grew to 13 midway through the third quarter. The Lions have been down plenty of times this postseason, but know they’re a second-half team.

The District 1 champions rattled off nine straight points to close the third quarter and made a layup on their first possession of the fourth to trim the 13-point deficit to two, but that’s as close as they’d get. Foul trouble and empty offensive possessions resulted in Faith Christian Academy’s 45-29 loss to Montrose in the PIAA-2A quarterfinals at Wyoming Area High School Friday night.

The Lions got back into the game with back-to-back threes from Autumn Landis and Bella Forker. Ava Lopez added a free throw and Landis found Maddee Huber for a basket to cut the 28-15 deficit to 28-24 going to the fourth. Huber set up Aubrey Sauers for a layup in the first 15 seconds of the fourth to make it a two-point game, 28-26.

“Once we get in the locker room we always say we’re a second-half team,” Bella Forker said. “That’s just how we are. Ever since the district championship when we were down 11 or something, but we just weren’t really scoring in the first half. We came back and won by, probably, 10. From there on, we just kept saying second-half team. It sparks a little bit of confidence in us, little bit of hope. Once we get that one person going we’re like OK, we can do it. That’s how the deficit shortens.”

Faith was whistled for six teams fouls in the third quarter, so Montrose was shooting on all fouls in the fourth. The Meteors (23-4) went 7-for-8 from the free-throw line as part of their game-ending 17-3 run.

“The biggest thing that went wrong was Montrose played great,” FCA coach Dave Forker said. “Their players stepped up. We had a nice run going. I think we had a couple shots that went around the rim. In a game like that, a couple bounces and a couple calls – the refs called a good game I’m not complaining about it – but when the momentum swung like that it just takes one or two things when you’re playing a good team like Montrose. It just takes one or two things for them to take the momentum back.”

Multiple Lions were in foul trouble in the fourth quarter. Bella Forker picked up her fourth foul with 5:56 remaining and a two-possession game. Montrose was able to capitalize and get some better looks in the paint while Forker couldn’t be as aggressive defensively.

“I would’ve went for more blocks,” Forker said. “I just laid back. I was like, ‘I can’t get out of the game.’ That’s worse than getting my fifth foul called. It definitely effected my defense a lot, but it’s OK.”

Mikayla Hissner’s three-pointer with 5:20 to go was the only basket the Lions made after cutting their deficit to two. Her triple made it 34-29 before Montrose scored the final 11 points.

The Meteors led the entire way. Mia Snyder kicked off the scoring with a stepback three and the Lions were never able to draw even. Snyder reached 1,000 points in her career when she hit a free throw later in the first quarter and finished with a game-high 21 points.

It was an 18-7 game after the first quarter and 22-10 game at halftime.

The loss ends the season for Faith Christian Academy and ends the high school careers for a strong senior class. Lopez, Huber, Hissner, Kendall Garber and Bella Forker led the program to one of its best seasons ever, winning the Bicentennial Athletic League and District 1-2A championships and a state quarterfinals appearance.

“On the court this is the winningest team in program history,” Dave Forker said. “They had 80 wins in their four years and that’s with the COVID year that cut a ton of our games down… I can say a lot more numbers, but that would be criminal of me because it’s not the numbers, it’s not the Ws, it’s not the Xs and Os. This group of young ladies is the most special group on and off the court. They play with fire, they play with passion, they play together. Who they are as young ladies is 10 times better than who they are as basketball players and they are really, really good basketball players.”

“Unlike anyone I’ve ever been with,” Bella Forker said of her teammates, some for seven years and others for one. “Off the court is especially just so much more fun. They always encourage me to play my own game, but we all encourage each other to be better and also have fun with the process. We’re never yelling at each other, always having a smile on our face and trying to have a good time in the process, win or lose.”

Montrose 45, Faith Christian Academy 29

Montrose 18 4 6 17 – 29

Faith Christian Academy 7 3 14 5 – 29

Montrose: Gracie Dalton 2 3-4 7, Riley Keihl 1 0-0 2, Hayley Pompey 2 0-2 4, Mia Snyder 6 7-9 21, Mya Snyder 2 0-0 4, Paley Adams 2 3-6 7. Total 15 13-21 45.

Faith Christian Academy: Ava Lopez 0 1-2 1, Bella Forker 3 0-2 7, Mikayla Hissner 2 0-0 6, Kendall Garber 1 1-2 3, Autumn Landis 1 2-2 5, Maddee Huber 2 0-0 5, Aubrey Sauers 1 0-0 2, Brooke Picciotti 0 0-0 0. Total 10 4-8 29.

3-point goals: M: Mia Snyder 2. FCA: Mikayla Hissner 2, Bella Forker, Autumn Landis, Maddie Huber.

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