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Girls basketball: Sixth Sense: Faith girls stay unbeaten in BAL


The Faith Christian Lions (9-2, 6-0 BAL) stayed perfect in conference Tuesday night at Bristol, thumping the host Warriors (5-6, 4-3 BAL) 70-31 to win their sixth straight Bicentennial contest.

“I was really happy to see the defensive intensity with our starting five,” said Faith coach Dave Forker. “We weren’t too pleased with that in our last game. Our starting five set the tone tonight that that wouldn’t happen again.”

Faith tallied 50-plus points in all six conference wins. The Lion attack averages over 56 points per game in Bicentennial play.

“We preach ball movement,” Forker shared. “We have five girls on the court – even when we go to our bench – who can score. When we make that extra pass, we’re a really good team. When we don’t, we struggle some times.”

The keys to Faith’s offensive success are “passing the ball and moving it well,” added freshman point guard Bella Forker. “When we play selfishly, we don’t get anywhere but when we play with each other we score a lot better than normal.”

Before the game was 40 seconds old, Joy Hissner drained a two and Sydney Heller sank a three. Faith had six steals in the first quarter alone and converted many of them into transition buckets.

“It’s been a struggle starting out a game strong,” admitted Heller, whose 19 points led all scorers. “If we start strong, we can dictate how the other team comes out against us. Coming out strong is something we have been focusing on lately.”

When an Abby Bowersock steal ultimately led to another Heller run out, it put Faith up 17-2 with 3:38 left in the first. Fans who arrived eight minutes late for the game found Bristol already in a 15-point hole.

“It was a lot of communication and it’s not just one individual that wants to shine above everyone else,” said Bowersock, who grabbed five rebounds. “It’s playing off of each other.”

The Warriors couldn’t answer Faith’s pressure defense, and the Lions led 26-4 after one. Forker emptied the benches in the second quarter, yet Faith still led 40-19 at intermission.

Faith, with their starters back in, played more half court in the third quarter but the result was similar. Two Heller threes and a trey and nifty 3-point play by Blanca Acevedo helped to put the Lions up 60-24 at the end of three. Starters sat again with nine minutes remaining.

Acevedo scored 12. Forker, whose sister Ashley is the top player on Central Connecticut, scored eight with three assists and three steals.

The Lions challenged themselves over Christmas break with new competition. In the Weatherly Holiday Tournament, Faith topped its host 51-26 before falling to Mount Carmel. Both foes made states last season.

“We did really well in our first game and got destroyed in our second game,” said Bella Forker. “But that is good because we hadn’t gotten beaten up. Now we know we have to get better.”

This season Faith has the firepower to break an odd pattern. Faith made the PIAAs in 2015, 2017 and 2019 – odd years. Faith missed states in 2014, 2016 and 2018 – even numbered seasons. A 2020 PIAA berth would gladly snap the streak.

“We want to win 20 games and make states this year. That’s definitely a goal of ours,” Coach Forker stated. “I think God has given us a team where we can do it if we keep working together and getting better.”

“We want to not make as many turnovers, and higher foul shot percentages are goals each year,” Bowersock added.

The road to the Class A District One championship runs through Jenkintown, who have made the last three PIAA Final Fours. Faith hosts 10-0 Jenkintown on Feb. 4.

Faith’s chance to win seven straight in conference will be on the 14th against the Christian Academy. “On the court, we have a lot of communication and working together,” Heller offered. “That starts off the court with encouraging each other, being in the Lord together and coming together under Him and under Christ. We look at this sport as a blessing and not to just perform, perform and perform. It is something we’re thankful for.”