Faith basketball squads head to playoffs with something to prove

JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF

MARBLE FALLS — The Faith Academy boys and girls basketball teams will attempt to add to their historical seasons.

They’ll try to win regional championships Feb. 27-28 to advance to the Class 3A state tournament of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools.

For the Lady Flames (30-4, 12-0 in District 4-3A), it’s their fifth consecutive trip to regionals but their first as a defending state champion. The Flames (18-5, 12-0) are making their first postseason appearance.

On Feb. 27, the Flames take on Kerrville Our Lady of the Hills at 4 p.m., while the Lady Flames will face The Woodlands Christian at 5:30 p.m. All tournament games will be played at Cornerstone Christian, 4802 Vance Jackson Road in San Antonio.

Both head coaches said their players enjoyed a solid week of practices and are focused on the tasks at hand. Each squad has played at least one warmup game. The Lady Flames lost 60-46 to San Antonio Incarnate Word, while the Flames beat the Lake Travis High School junior varsity team 68-52 and lost 66-62 to Austin St. Dominic Savio.

Boys head coach Randy Denton said playing Savio provided a good preview of what the Flames will face against Our Lady of the Hills. Both opponents feature a 6-foot-9 post.

Other key Our Lady of the Hills players are sophomore center Luke Schultz, who averages 16 points and 12 rebounds a game, and senior guard Seth Elks, who averages 19 points, four assists and two steals a contest.

“Those are their two big weapons,” Denton said.

He is not worried about inexperience or nerves, he said.

“We have two seniors and three juniors, we’re upperclassmen,” he said. “I expect our kids to handle the pressure just fine. As long as we play and we don’t go ice cold, we’ll be fine. I think we’ll give effort. I think we’ll be ready to play.”

The Lady Flames had their 17-game winning streak snapped in the warmup game against Incarnate Word. Bad weather forced officials to cancel a warmup game against San Antonio FEAST.

Still, head coach Jerry English said the extra days of rest have helped senior point guard Taylor Denton, who suffered an ankle injury weeks ago.

“Seven or eight weeks is a long time to be on one leg,” he said. “She had a really good week as far as her quickness and first step. She’d gotten to where she wouldn’t pretend to drive to the basket.”

That setback has allowed other players to step up, particularly the posts. Freshman Sedona Prince is averaging 13 points and 12 rebounds a contest, while junior Hannah Cozby is averaging 14 points and seven rebounds.

English said the Lady Flames feel like the hunters, not the hunted, because they’re playing in a new classification. They won the Class 2A state title last year.

“We’re the small ones on the block,” he said. “I think (my players) feel like they have something to prove.”

The Lady Flames have four freshmen, five sophomores, one junior and three seniors, so English is looking for Denton, Sierra Brinkley and Susanna Case to lead, organize, calm and help their younger teammates.

The Woodlands Christian is known to slow the pace, preferring to keep the score in the 30s.

“We’d like it to be played in the 30s in the first quarter,” English said. “Whoever gets and keeps the tempo will control and win the game.

“The regional tournament to me has always been the most nerve-wracking,” he added. “There are no losers at the state tournament. It’s a huge step from regionals.”       

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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