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Church Farm overcomes slow start to beat Sankofa Academy in first round

ROYERSFORD >> Wednesday night at Spring-Ford, the Church Farm basketball team took its first step to a PIAA 2A championship by shaking off some early game rust to come back and defeat a game Sankofa Academy team, 70-61, in the first round of the playoffs.

Church Farm will now meet the winner of the Holy Cross vs. Antietam game Saturday at a time and place to be determined.

Church Farm (15-8 overall) turned the ball over 13 times in the first period and did not play well at all in the first half, but the Griffins found themselves down just 27-25 to the Warriors (6-16). The margin would have been greater if not for the shooting of Daniel LaRue, who poured in all of his 11 points in the second period, hitting 4-4 from there field, including three treys.

“I just try to do anything I can to help the team and bring energy to the team,” LaRue said. “Tonight my shot felt good and we settled down in the second half and played better defense and stopped turning the ball over.”

After turning the ball over 16 times in the first half, the Griffins committed just three turnovers the rest of the way and led the Warriors 47-46 after three periods. The scoring of Brandon Hernandez, who led the Griffins with 17 points, and the inside play of Matt Sullivan, who contributed 12 points and nine rebounds for the game, were keys for the Griffins.

But the fourth period belonged to the Griffins as they outscored the Warriors 23-16 to edge away. Hernandez started the period by draining a long three-ball to give Church Farm a 49-46 edge. Sullivan then scored inside after a Warriors miss and it was a 51-46 Griffins lead with 6:01 to play in the fourth period.

“We were a little nervous to start the game and that is why we had so many turnovers,” Sullivan said. “But we settled down at halftime and played our game in the second half. We turned up the defense and they we’re attacking the basket well in the first half and we held that down in the second half.”

Sankofa Academy did not quit however as Nasir Williams scored on a runner and it was a 51-48 Griffins lead. But the Griffins got an inside basket from Dominic Egu and two free throws from Hernandez and the lead was up to 55-48, and you just could just feel the Griffins grinding away from the Warriors.

Hernandez drained another three-ball, one of his four treys on the night and Egu knocked down two free throws before Gavriel Henriquez-Peralta scored on a driving layup, and the Griffins were pulling away for the hard fought victory. Church Farm shot 7-7 from the field in the fourth period and turned the Warriors over four times, and it was the Griffins who were moving on to the second round of the 2A tournament.

“We turned the ball over like 10 times in the first period and we were only down by two points at halftime, “Church Farm coach Jonathan Guarente said. “I told the kids to relax and we were fortunate to be in the game at that points. And Daniel gave us a big lift in the second period. Those 11 points are a career high for him. He is filling in for Cooper Shivers who is out and like we tell the kids is that you never know when you are going to be called on.

“I thought they handled our pressure defense well but we picked things up in the second half. We just seemed to be in a two and four point game and we just grinned out the win tonight.”

Church Farm 70, Sankofa Academy 61

SANKOFA ACADEMY (61) — Alston 7 4-4 20, Hardy 2 2-4-6, Williams 6 3-4 17, Salem 1 0-0 2, Precha 2 0-0 4, Coleman 1 0-0 2, Parker 2 0-0 4, Johnson 3 0-0 6. Totals 24 9-12 61.

CHURCH FARM (70) — Henriquez-Peralta 5 4-7 14, Hernandez 5 3-6 17, Egu 3 3-3 9, LaRue 4 0-0 11, Sullivan 3 4-5 12, Okera-Anglin 2 2-2 7. Totals 22 16-23 70.

Sankofa Academy              16 11 19 16 — 61

Church Farm                        11 14 22 23 — 70

3-point goals: Alston 2, Williams 2, Hernandez 4, LaRue 3, Sullivan 2, Okera-Anglin.


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