There was no PT for Derian Bradford on Friday.
There was no answer for Owen Bradford either. Behind Bradford’s 24 points and 10 rebounds, Faith Christian decisively snapped a four-game losing streak in a 67-41 home rout of Lincoln Leadership Academy.
“After I hit a few of my first jump shots, that felt good,” Owen Bradford said. “That opened up the layups because then they have to guard me more, which made getting to the basket a little easier.”
“The last couple of games, we got off to a slow start,” added Chris Cummings, who scored 19 points with six rebounds. “Thanks to Josh (Forker) and Owen, I was able to get some open looks and then get rolling.”
Bradford’s buzzer beating three gave Faith a 15-12 lead at the end of the first quarter. Bradford had five baskets; Josh Forker assisted on four.
“I’ve been playing with Owen since JV so I feel where he is,” said Forker, who tallied 10 points, eight assists and five rebounds. “Owen understands that I know where he is. He gets open and makes it easy to get him the ball.”
Faith blew the game open in the second quarter with a 13-0 run that started with Cummings’ free throw. Dylan Ziccardi hit a jumper and a three, Bradford added two layups and two free throws and Cummings contributed a putback. Faith led 33-20 at halftime.
“Their transition defense wasn’t really there so we took advantage of that,” observed Cummings. “We got some boards, looked up the court and we were open.”
Forker’s free throw made the game 36-24 and started a 14-0 third quarter run. Forker scored seven points in the third. Cummings drained a three and Bradford scored three post baskets.
Ziccardi finished with 11 points. John Camiola added five assists.
The LLA win came at a crucial time for Faith, who is playing without injured leading scorer Derian Bradford.
“After you lose a couple of games, you start to doubt yourself,” said coach Tony DaCosta. “This win was a real good display of what we can do when we do the little things.”
“Obviously Derian is one of our key guys and we’ll miss him,” said twin brother Owen, “but we had to be next man up and have everyone help fill the void. Everyone stepped up tonight and did that.”
“The scoring piece can be picked up,” DaCosta noted. “(Derian) is a big piece, no question. But no one is going to feel sorry for us. And it’s why you have a team, so guys can pick up the slack.”
Faith went 6-1 prior to the skid, with its only loss to Group IV North Hunterdon. The Lions averaged 60 points a game during those seven games compared to just 46 during the losing streak. Yet DaCosta pointed to defense as their make or break element.
“We’re a defensive oriented team,” DaCosta said. “That’s how we butter our bread. We get stops and we capitalize on other team’s turnovers.”
“We held it tight,” Forker added. “Most of their offense are drives and kicks. They didn’t really have the 3-point shot or the confidence to take it from the outside. We were there to back each other up on every play.”
At press time, Faith (12-8, 9-5 Bicentennial) clung to the second spot of District One Class A playoffs.