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The young Faith Christian boys basketball battled hard but lost to defending champ Sterling 48-36 in the March 10 Class 3A state tournament third-place game.
“We got ourselves in a big hole early but our guy battled hard so we made a game of it,” Eagles Coach Andrew Hasz said after the game. “We are a young team with only two seniors on the roster. We have played well in the tournament but tonight we got off to a slow start. But our guys rallied, pulled it together and we gave it our best effort. I am very proud of our guys and what we accomplished this season.”
Sterling came out with a hot hand in the March 10 game in a game closer than the final score indicates in part because 6-8 Tiger center Bodie Hume dominated the boards helping the Tigers go up 18-6 by the end of the first period.
But Faith Christian rallied, pushed the pace as they hit outside shots and made good on drives to the basket to cut the Sterling advantage to 27-20 at halftime. Then the Eagles scored the first five points of the third period to make it a close game the rest of the way.
The score was tied 33-33 going into the fourth quarter and Faith Christian took the lead for the first time at 36-34 with 3:49 left on the clock. Sterling regained the lead at 38-36 a minute later. The Tigers then went into a time-eating, ball-control style of play so the Eagles fouled the player with the ball in an effort to try to regain possession of the ball by pulling down the rebound of a missed free throw. That didn’t happen because Sterling made sure Hume had the ball most of the time and he hit eight of eight free throws in the final 1:09 as the Tigers won, 48-36.
Faith Christian senior Josh Gardner led the team in scoring against Sterling with 14 points. Teammate Benjamin Hawkins scored seven points. Caleb Ruter, Eagles 6-4 guard, hauled down 12 rebounds for his team.
“It was a heck of a game tonight,” Gardner said after the game. “We came out kind of slow and let them take control early. But we stepped up and things started working for us. We began hitting our outside shots and we drove to the basket if the lane was open. Their big guy is a good player and he made it tough inside. We played hard and I wish we had won but I feel we gave it our best effort.”
Hawkins also plays football but said he wants to focus on basketball and after graduation from Faith Christian he hopes to go on and play basketball in college.
The Eagles came into the Class 3A tournament with an 18-6 record and they were seeded sixth in the tournament bracket. Faith Christian opened their tournament play March 3 with a 65-33 win over Kent Denver 65-33. Tournament action moved to the Hamilton Gymnasium on the University of Denver March for the quarterfinals. The
Eagles continued to advance as they outscored Manual 65-57 in the tournament quarterfinals.
The Eagle lost to Bayfield 45-42 in the semifinals on March 9 and then played Sterling for third-place on March 10 to finish the year in fourth place in Class 3A with a season record of 20-8.
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