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Boys basketball: Faith advances to state quarterfinals


Faith Christian has been down this road before, and the Lions understand their task at hand.

They advanced to the state semifinals the past two seasons due to a balanced scoring attack and a steady defensive effort, mainly in the second half of games.

Fortunately for them, the format hasn’t changed this season, and their goal is within sight.

The District One second-seeded Lions moved on to the state Class A quarterfinals with a 49-40 victory over District Three top seed Lancaster Country Day in a second-round game at Governor Mifflin High School in Shillington.

Faith Christian (17-11) exploded for 35 second-half points, 19 of them in the final quarter. Senior Derian Bradford led the Lions with 22 points, 20 of them after halftime.

The victory came three days after the Lions edged Notre Dame East Stroudsburg, 62-58, in an overtime, opening-round game. Bradford had 15 points in that win.

“This is a big win,” said Faith Christian head coach Tony DaCosta. “We didn’t shoot the ball that well in the first half. We knew we would be in for a challenge with this team from the start.

“The big difference in the second half was our defense. We turned it up and we were more aggressive.”

Both teams exchanged leads in the opening half and neither could build a margin larger than three. Lancaster Country went into halftime with a 17-14 advantage.

Faith Christian became the aggressor in the third quarter, but Lancaster Country stayed within range. They cut the lead to two at 39-27 with just under two minutes to play.

But the Cougars were in foul trouble, and fouling the Lions was their lone weapon in the final minutes. Faith Christian took advantage and sank 10 of its last 11 free throws from the charity stripe.

Josh Forker added 10 points with a team-high eight rebounds and five blocks for the Lions. Forker had a game-high 17 points against Notre Dame East Stroudsburg.

“Derian had a big game for us and he really picked it up for us after halftime,” added DaCosta. “Josh also had a big game for us and he became a force.

“We are playing well, but we can play better offensively and execute better. We need better starts to our games.”

Faith Christian will move on to meet District 12 top seed Sankofa Freedom in the quarterfinals Friday at a site and time to be determined. Sankofa has been ranked first in the state rankings most of the season.

It will be another test of grit and likely a near-perfect scenario to make it a three-peat to the state semifinals.

“This will be a tough match because they are complete at every position,” said DaCosta. “We will have to play well defensively and get stops. We will also have to execute each possession to score, rebound, make free throws and take care of the ball.”