Bucks County Herald

Boys' basketball:

Faith wears district crown

Smith lays in game-winner as Lions roar in OT


Faith Christian pauses for a photograph after downing Girard College, 48-46, in overtime for the District One Class A championship at Bensalem High School on Saturday. States are next for the Lions.

Faith Christian will never forget March 4, 2017.

That night at Council Rock South, the Lions got slaughtered by Girard College, 72-40, for the District One Class A championship.

“We were really pushing to beat Girard this year,” Landon Coyle said. “We had a salty taste in our mouth from last year and then to finally meet them again in the district final and to get revenge on them was just great.”

Faith will also never forget March 3, 2018 – the day, at Bensalem High, the Lions claimed their first district title. Sawyer Smith’s driving lay-up with four seconds remaining in overtime gave top-seeded Faith a 48-46 victory over No. 2 Girard, a squad that also ended the Lions’ 2016-17 season, 67-58, in the state semifinals.

“Our mindset was totally different this year,” Smith said. “We’ve been training for this for a long time.

Since last year, since that defeat, we’ve been waiting for Girard to come again. We came through this time.”

Did they ever. After the Cavaliers forced OT on a Rodney Carson lay-up with 1:34 remaining in regulation, the Lions turned to their big man, Smith, a senior, in the extra session – and he delivered, scoring all eight Faith points in OT, including the game-winner that sent the Lion players into a frenzy on the court.

“It was just euphoria, man,” said Smith, who tallied a team-high 14 points and six rebounds despite being saddled with fouls in the guts of the game. “I’ve been waiting for this my whole high school career. This is the top; this is the peak.”

“It’s hard to comprehend,” junior teammate Owen Bradford added. “It’s such a big moment for our team. This is my second year here. Last year, we, of course, took a hard loss to Girard in districts and it was our goal this season to come in and take them down – and that’s exactly what we did.”

“I’m kind of speechless,” echoed head coach Tony DaCosta, “but I’m just so excited because we put so much work in.”

Faith scored the first six points of the contest, but Girard battled back and went ahead 9-8 after one.

Bradford, who was the first player off the bench for DaCosta, provided a lift, depositing six points in the second quarter as the Lions and Cavaliers entered halftime tied at 17.

The lead seesawed in the third. However, Darius Forney turned a rebound into a three-pointer, giving Faith momentum, not to mention a 30-27 advantage after three. Coyle doubled the lead to 33-27 early in the fourth with his first points of the game, a three. Coyle scored all eight of his points in the fourth.

“I kind of got angry,” Coyle admitted. “The refs made a couple of questionable calls and then I just stepped up, my teammates were finding me, I was getting open looks and I was able to knock them down.”

Bradford finished with 10 points. Forney had seven points and a team-leading 12 rebounds. Charles Ervin contributed four points and six boards. David Forscht drained a big three-pointer in the third quarter; Derian Bradford had two points.

For the Cavaliers, sophomore Mikeal Jones, who already holds an offer from Villanova, among others, and is a national top 100 recruit, pumped in 22 points. Craig Logan netted eight points, while Aquil Stewart and Carson each chipped in seven.

“Last year, I don’t think we were mentally prepared for the district final,” said Coyle, one of a half-dozen Lion seniors.

Faith could potentially meet Girard in the state semifinals again on Monday, March 19. The Lions open the state playoffs against District Three fourth-place Berks Christian this Friday evening at Central Bucks West. The Cavaliers will face District 12 champion Sankofa Freedom on Friday.

“Obviously,” DaCosta said, “this was one of our benchmarks. We wanted to win a district championship and we also want to win a state championship.

“We’ve accomplished one of our goals,” DaCosta continued. “Now, we have one more we have to go after.”

By accomplishing one of its goals, Faith has joined the Lions’ softball, baseball, boys’ soccer and wrestling teams on the top step of the district rung within the past 365 days. Needless to say, Faith’s trophy case is getting full.

“We made sure we had to get ours this time,” DaCosta said.




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