The Faith Christian Academy Eagles started their 2021 CHSAA State Tournament run with an emphatic first round victory over the Strasburg High School Indians on March 9. The Eagles won the game — …
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The Faith Christian Academy Eagles started their 2021 CHSAA State Tournament run with an emphatic first round victory over the Strasburg High School Indians on March 9. The Eagles won the game — played at Faith Christian's Ward Road campus — 66-43 and never trailed, jumping out to an early 9-0 lead and never looking back.
Sophomore guard Geo Velarde paced the Eagles with a game-high 20 points and four rebounds, while senior guard Caleb Clark added 13 points and 13 rebounds in the winning effort. Daniel Alvarado led the way for Strasburg, putting up 16 points and three rebounds for the Indians.
Faith Christian's early run was answered by a tough Alvarado layup under the basket, but the Eagles held on to a 12-4 lead through the first frame. The Eagles extended their lead in the second quarter — thanks in part to a three-point buzzer beater by Clark in the quarter's closing seconds — to carry a 31-11 advantage into halftime.
Strasburg refused to let up, roaring back in the third quarter to cut Faith Christian's lead to ten points. The Indian's twitchy motion offense opened up the paint for Alvarado, who fought through consistent double teams to spur Strasburg's second half run.
Nevertheless, towards the end of the third quarter the Eagles shooters came alive again, with Velarde knocking down a momentum-altering three pointer with just over two minutes left in the third to put Faith Christian up 40-27. With their offense back on track, the Eagles rekindled their decisive lead and finished the third quarter up 45-27.
The fourth quarter brought more of the same, as the Eagles fought off the Indians offensive efforts and continued to score in bunches, going up 57-40 with three minutes to go before a slew of fouls committed by both teams ushered in a free throw barrage that left the final score to 66-43.
Faith Christian head coach Abram Ziemer said after the game that his team executed their game plan of playing loose on offense and taking advantage of turnovers to score on the fast break.
“Running the floor — that's Faith basketball; that's what we've done for years,” said Ziemer. “Getting them in a rhythm and a tempo and to do stuff that they're looking to do, I think that was good. Then emphasizing our defense. Our defense leads to easy points on the other end.”
Ziemer added that preparing for the game was difficult due to uncertainty about who the Eagles would face in the first round. CHSAA was initially planning to release their state tournament bracket on Sunday, March 7, but instead released it on Monday, March 8 — less than 24 hours before the game.
“It was tough,” said Ziemer of putting a game plan together on short notice. “I didn't know until Saturday that the bracket wasn't coming out until Monday. It made it tough to prepare, trying to see if somebody had film on (Strasburg). And then meanwhile if we win this game, we have to go to Aspen now.”
With the win, the Eagles advance to face Aspen High School in Aspen on Thursday, March 11.
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