E.A. Sports Today

Faith’s test

Lions’ tough week continues with loss to Spring Garden, sparks return to fundamentals as White Plains, area tournament near

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

A “family meeting” before the Calhoun County tournament solved Faith Christian’s chemistry glitches.

The Lions must work through a tough week to solve what second-year head coach Cory Hughes called a “funk.”

Spring Garden’s boys gained separation with a run to open the fourth quarter and beat Faith 53-42 at Faith on Tuesday, avenging a 50-46 early-season loss at Spring Garden on Nov. 29.

For Faith, the loss came a night after falling 60-55 to Jacksonville Christian in a game that cost the Lions the right to play host to the Class 1A, Area 8 tournament. Faith beat JCA 78-60 on Jan. 5.

The Lions (17-11) will get their second crack at Class 4A White Plains on Friday, having lost to the Wildcats 80-59 on Dec. 20.

The area tournament is next week, at Winterboro.

Faith made its first Northeast Regional appearance since 2011 last season and has designs on getting back there.

Hughes played “stupidity” for the key fourth-quarter run in Tuesday’s game.

“We’re playing super undisciplined right now, not realizing the moment that we’re in, making silly passes and doing silly things,” he said. “That should not be the basketball we’re playing at the end of January and the beginning of February.”

Tuesday’s game was tied 36-36 through three quarters, and Faith drew first blood in the fourth to lead 38-36. Spring Garden (15-7) went on a 9-0 run.

John Welsh tied twin brother Jacob with a team-high 16 points and scored seven of the nine points during the run. Jacob Welsh scored the other two on a Cameron Welsh drive and feed.

It all started on defense.

“I thought we did a good job of pressuring the wings, made it real difficult for them to have good drives,” Spring Garden coach Levi Hatcher said. “We got a couple of deflections. They cut across the lane, and we got in the way a couple of times.

“Luckily, we let those stops lead to transition break buckets. Two or three stops like that, and you finish, and you kind of feel like you’ve got that momentum going.”

A Yashua Arevalo bucket after a Spring Garden turnover got Faith back within 45-40, but Spring Garden scored six more unanswered points to make it 51-40.

Arevalo led Faith with 15 points, and Thomas Curlee added 11.

Where does Faith go from here? To start with, practices with an October feel.

“We’re going back to all the way to the beginning of the season, where we work on fundamentals,” Hughes said. “It’s just the fundamentals for us. We’re just haphazardly throwing the ball around, not cutting off screens, not getting our spacing to where everything’s getting clogged up, then we have to make stuff up. We’re not boxing out.

“Just simple, simple stuff.”

Curlee, the top returnee from Faith’s 2022 regional team who reached 1,500 career points earlier this season, agreed with Hughes’ assessment and sees a doable fix.

“Coach Cory always says be patient-aggressive,” he said. “We talked about it. We were just being patient at most points tonight. …

“Hopefully, it’s just one of those little dry slumps. We’re going to work hard and get after it tomorrow at practice, practice again Thursday and then get after it again here against White Plains. We’ll get it back together. It’s an effort thing, and it’s not hard to give more effort.”

SPRING GARDEN – John Welsh 6 4-5 16, Jon Rogers 5 1-3 11, Conner Bates 2 0-0 4, Chapel Pope 2 0-1 4, Cam Welsh 1 0-0 2, Jake Welsh 5 6-8 16. Totals 21 11-17 53.
FAITH CHRISTIAN – Conner Richerzhagen 2 0-0 5, Eli Robinson 2 0-0 4, Yashau Arevalo 6 2-2 15, Thomas Curlee 4 2-4 11, Carson Harris 2 1-2 7. Totals 14 5-8 42.

Spring Garden12111317 –53
Faith Christian165156 –42

3-point goals: Spring Garden 0, Faith Christian 5 (Harris 2, Arevalo, Curlee, Richerzhagen). Total fouls: Spring Garden 13, Faith Christian 16. Officials: Hoffman, Lackey, Merritt.

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