Faith Bible girls advance to state tournament with win over Toledo
There's an old saying in sports; never let a loss beat you twice.
Last year, following a regular season that resulted in but a single defeat, the Faith Bible Falcons lost a first round home playoff game to Weston-McEwen and were denied an opportunity to qualify for the school's first girls basketball state tournament.
Not this year.
The Falcons made quick work of Toledo 51-29 Feb. 23 at the Forest Hills Lutheran School in Cornelius, and in the process exorcised the demons of a season past and advanced to Pendleton for this year's OSAA 2A State Basketball Tournament.
"We tried to forget about last year's game, but it's always in the back of your mind and we didn't want a repeat of that," said Faith Bible senior post Katie Fajer. "We came tonight ready to play so that wouldn't happen."
The win was the 16th in a row for Faith and was further result of a team making strides from what they were and how they played earlier in the season.
"We've been working a lot on sharing the basketball and really breaking things down by passing and playing as a team, and I think that really showed today," said Fajer. "We came out ready to play and we executed and we did what we were supposed to do."
The Falcons did the bulk of their damage defensively, holding Toledo to just five first quarter points and but 10 at the half. An effort made more impressive by the fact that they did so for the most part without standout post Sarah Fajer, who left the game in the first two minutes due to two quick fouls.
"Our team is a lot stronger this year," said Faith Bible head coach Eddie Kirkpatrick. "We've had to play without several key players this year, so we're used to it and everyone was ready to step up and do their part."
In Sarah's absence, twin sister Katie was the catalyst for the Falcons' effort, scoring 18 points and grabbing nine rebounds.
"You have to do what you have to do," said Katie Fajer. "If you have to carry the team, you have to carry the team. And I'm not saying I carried the team, because everybody scored and contributed. But if Sarah comes out, I've got to step up."
Katie scored eight of the Falcons' 13 first quarter points, and 14 of their 28 points in the first half. Faith took a 28-10 lead to the halftime locker room and scored 15 of the first 18 of the third quarter to extend their lead to 43-13 midway through period. It was 47-17 after three and in addition to the Fajers, the Falcons got a significant contribution from freshman point guard Izzy Steerman, who scored 11 points before – like most of the starters – sitting for the game's final eight minutes.
"Izzy is a freshman who plays like a sophomore or junior," said Kirkpatrick. "So I knew early it could be a bit rough, but I knew she'd settle in. She plays with great intensity and she gave their guards all they could handle."
Kirkpatrick was particularly proud of his team's effort in the face of a torrid Toledo pace and pressure, something that has troubled his girls in the past.
"We knew Toledo was going to play fast and apply a lot of pressure, so we prepared for that," the coach said. "I'm really proud of our girls for not speeding up and playing their own game."
So now, with their first-round hurdle cleared, it's on to Pendleton where the Falcons hope to do more than just show-up for this year's state tournament.
"We're very excited," said Kirkpatrick. "I told the girls to take the weekend and let people pat them on the back because this is something the school's never done before, but Monday it's right back to work. We're not going there to have fun, we're going there to accomplish something."
Faith is scheduled to play Grant Union in the Falcons' opening game scheduled for Mar. 1 at 315pm at the Pendleton High School.
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