E.A. Sports Today

Lions sweep opener

Sills no longer just ‘the rebounding guy’ as he and Griswould lift Faith boys over Jefferson Christian; girls use big start to win the nightcap

Faith Christian seniors Jack Sills (L) and Jordan Griswould share a moment in the dressing room after combining for 40 points and 30 rebounds in the Lions' season-opening victory over Jefferson Christian.

Faith Christian seniors Jack Sills (L) and Jordan Griswould share a moment in the dressing room after combining for 40 points and 30 rebounds in the Lions’ season-opening victory over Jefferson Christian.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

ANNISTON (Nov. 10) — Jack Sills has always been a rebounding machine for the Faith Christian basketball team. At 6-feet-3 he’s never been afraid to stick his nose in there under the basket.

But now he’s added a scoring dimension to his game and it’s just the piece the Lions need.

Sills grabbed his typical 16 rebounds Thursday and became the second scorer the Lions need to complement Jordan Griswould in a 59-49 win over Jefferson Christian.

It was the first game of high school basketball in Calhoun County this season and it was played in front of a matinee crowd in the Lions’ gym.

Sills had 14 points — nine above his season average of a year ago — and might have gone for more had he not been stifled by foul trouble. He scored 12 in the first half. Even coach Brad Yarbrough said “he’s a scorer now.”

“I definitely need to be a scorer and coach has had me working on a jump shot way more than last year,” Sills said. “In this new offense there’s really not a post position per se like I was last year, so I’m definitely going to be more of a scorer this year. Not necessarily a guard, because I don’t have those kinds of handles, but definitely more scoring.”

The void in the offense was created by the graduation of outside threats Caleb McCord, who watched Thursday’s game from the balcony, and Alex Taylor. With Griswould, McCord and Taylor supplying most of the points each night, the points Sills gave them was a bonus.

Now, they will be a staple.

“I’ve always kind of had fun with the rebounds, honestly,” Sills said. “That’s kind of always been my thing – rebound and score 10 or 12 or 15 a game – and I hadn’t really been waiting for my chance to score 25 or 30 a game. I’ve just been kind of ‘the rebounding guy,’ but now that the role has presented itself I’ve embraced it. I’ll have fun with it, hopefully score 25 or 30 sometimes. We’ll see.”

The Lions’ big gun, Griswould, meanwhile, had 26 points (and 14 rebounds) and took over the game in the second half after Sills fell into his deepest foul trouble by attacking the basket. Griswould scored 16 in the second half.

It wasn’t a pretty game for the Lions, but they did lead it wire-to-wire. In a fashion not atypical of a season opener, they missed a lot of layups and committed 22 turnovers.

Jefferson Christian cut Faith’s lead to 41-38 with just under four minutes to play. Yarbrough called time to settle his team down and get Sills back in the game despite carrying four fouls. Riley Camp hit a 3-pointer, then Griswould scored on a three-point play (off another Sills rebound) and made another free throw to push the lead back to double digits.

The Eagles climbed back with some long-range shooting but the Lions were able to hold it off. They hit 11 3-pointers in the game, five by leading scorer Peyton Ryce.

“It was like we never could just put them away,” Yarbrough said. “It was like we’d take control of the game and then we’d fall back. We’ve got to learn when we put our foot down we have to learn to put them away.

“But at the end of the day we just want to be 1-0. After every game that’s what we’re looking for, 1-0. A win’s a win; we’ll take it any way we can get it. It wasn’t pretty … but I was proud of the energy level and the way we competed. A lot of messy things we need to clean up, though.”

Faith girls 48, Jefferson Christian 26

The first game of a new season — and the first game without all-time leading scorer Madison Stephens — couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for the Lady Lions.

They jumped out to a 10-1 first-quarter lead behind some nervous-energy defense and continued to pour it on. They had similar success starting the second half, outscoring the Lady Eagles 12-2 in the third quarter.

“I watched the boys game, you could tell they were nervous off the get-go,” Faith coach Bradley Dawson said. “That’s one of the things I was kind of concerned about because (his team is) so young. This group is a nervous group; they get nervous for everything.

“But I was excited. They just kind of got out and went after it. I guess they didn’t let the moment bother them, which was great.”

Instead of relying on one player to get the offense on track, the Lady Lions spread it around. They put three scorers in double figures and substituted in blocks of five, an approach that’s likely to change as games get tighter.

Sydnee Johnson led Faith with 14 points, Logan Boyd had 13 and Kristin Covington had 10.

“Having four girls that played with Madison the last couple years has helped them be ready for this,” Dawson said. “We knew she was graduating. I’ve been harping on it for two years somebody has got to step up, but I think we have a team that can step up as a unit. We don’t have one player that’s going to go score 30, but we have tons of girls who can go score 10.”


Faith Christian 59, Jefferson Christian 49

JEFFERSON CHRISTIAN (0-1) – Austin Colvin 1 1-2 3, Steven Gordon 4 1-4 10, Kyle Wilkerson 1 0-0 3, John Williams 0 0-0 0, Kimachu Kariuki 0 0-0 0, Peyton Ryce 7 2-3 21, Nate Bradley 2 0-0 6, Braxton Baird 2 0-1 6. Totals 17 4-10 49.

FAITH CHRISTIAN (1-0) – Michael McGraw 0 0-0 0, Riley Camp 2 1-2 7, Jordan Griswould 8 10-13 26, Jameson Adams 3 2-3 8, Seth Cravens 0 2-2 2, Jack Sills 6 2-4 14, Michael Kulick 1 0-0 2, Julien Key 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 17-24 59.

Jefferson Christian 14 6 11 18 — 49
Faith Christian 18 9 12 20 — 59

3-Point goals: JCA 11 (Gordon, Wilkerson, Ryce 5, Bradley 2, Baird 2); FCA 2 (Camp 2). Total fouls: JCA 24, FCA 19. Fouled out: Colvin, Gordon, Baird. Officials: Rusty Burroughs, Jeff Winn, Aaron Kelley.


Faith Christian 48, Jefferson Christian 26

JEFFERSON CHRISTIAN (0-1) — Mary Grace McDaniel 0 0-0 0, Katie Bradley 2 0-2 2, Kameron Ryce 0 3-4 3, Zooie Williams 1 1-3 4, Kierstan Wilson 0 0-0 0, Taylor Mann 3 3-5 9, Morgan Wormley 1 3-4 5, Kayman Whittington 0 1-2 1. Totals 7 11-20 26.

FAITH CHRISTIAN (1-0) – Logan Boyd 4 3-4 13, Kassidy Nix 0 0-0 0. Emily Sills 0 0-0 0, Shelley Phillips 1 0-0 3, Montana Huie 1 0-0 2, Sarah J. Christjohn 0 0-0 0, Zana Christjohn 0 0-2 0, Kristin Covington 5 0-0 10, Sydnee Johnson 6 0-0 14, C.J. Setters 2 0-0 5, Sarah K. McVeigh 0 1-2 1. Totals 19 4-8 48.

Jefferson Christian 1 12 2 11 — 26
Faith Christian 10 11 12 15 — 48

3-Point goals: JCA 1 (Williams); FCA 6 (Boyd 2, Phillips, Johnson 2, Setters). Total fouls: JCA 10, FCA 22. Officials: Rusty Burroughs, Jeff Winn, Aaron Kelley.

Faith's Shelley Ann Phillips (4) stays focused on the goal as Jefferson Christian's Morgan Wormley (35) and Taylor Mann apply pressure. (Photo by Laura A. Phillips)

Faith’s Shelley Ann Phillips (4) stays focused on the goal as Jefferson Christian’s Morgan Wormley (35) and Taylor Mann apply pressure. (Photo by Laura A. Phillips)

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