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Faith Academy girls basketball gets payback, looks for more in state tourney


DUBLIN — The Faith Academy girls basketball team is back at the Class 2A state tournament for the fifth time in eight years after a 38-32 win against Muenster Sacred Heart on Feb. 26.

The win also brings Lady Flames head coach Jerry English’s career victory total to 1,099 and ties his single-season win total at 36.The Lady Flames (36-2) rewrote a painful chapter in the program’s history against Sacred Heart.

With 10.10 seconds left in the game, Faith senior guard Bailey Brinkley missed the first of two free throws, and Sacred Heart took a timeout.

As the Lady Flames walked to the sideline, English reflected on the 2007 state tournament during which Sacred Heart capitalized on a missed Faith free throw with 6.1 seconds in the game to win.

In Dublin, the late-game situation eerily resembled the 2007 matchup.

“I would lie to you if I said that did not flash back,” he said. “If (Brinkley) somehow missed (the second free throw), we would have been up by three. I promise you that went through my mind.”

But this time, the Flames wrote a different ending.

During the timeout, English told Brinkley she should take it personally that the break was called to ice her.

Back on the line, she made the second free throw to give the Lady Flames the victory and send Faith back to the state tournament for the first time since they were the runners-up in 2010-2011.

“I was just trying to be a leader for my team,” Brinkley said. “Gosh, it was going to give me a heart attack how close it was. We pulled it out.”

English and assistant coach Steve Hatch debated on whether or not to put a couple of Lady Flames on the blocks for an offensive rebound, but in the end, it didn’t matter.

Brinkley’s resolve was as strong as steel, her blood as cold as ice.

When Sacred Heart fouled Faith sophomore guard Taylor Denton about eight seconds later and sent her to the line where she made both free throws, the Lady Flames finally could celebrate.

“I’m really glad we had (a team) push us because we haven’t been pushed (this season),” Denton said, “and you don’t want to get down to the last game and be pushed and not know how to react.”

Now, the Lady Flames have a chance at redemption against another opponent they have yet to beat.

Sherman Texoma, ranked No. 1 in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches small school poll, is 2-0 against the Lady Flames. Those wins came during the 2008 and 2011 state tournaments.

No. 2-ranked Faith meets Texoma in the state semifinals at 4:30 p.m. March 1 at Mansfield Lake Ridge High School.

Fans can hear the game live on KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune.