In the wake of a one point loss to Nestucca two days prior, the Faith Bible girls got things turned back in a positive direction by defeating Knappa 42-28, Wednesday, Jan. 16, at the Forest Hills Lutheran School in Cornelius.
The Falcons, despite struggling on the offensive end, kept a game Loggers team at bay for the bulk of the contest, then pulled away midway through the third quarter en route to the 12 point win.
"We were a little banged up coming into this game, but we were able to give a gritty effort and come away with a win," said Faith Bible head coach Eddie Kirkpatrick.
Faith was led by freshman Ashley Lohman who tallied 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. The feisty forward, after an understandably slow and somewhat hesitant start to the year, has come into her own in recent weeks, and Kirkpatrick has been impressed with her ever-growing aggressiveness as the season has progressed.
"Ashley has done a better job and has gotten better every game," said the coach. "At first you could tell she was a freshman, but there was one game where she came out with a fire in her eyes and has been playing really well since. She's very aggressive and doesn't back down. She doesn't wait for opportunities, she makes them."
Lohman, along with fellow freshman Kayla Merriam, combined to score all of the Falcons' eight first quarter points, while Knappa got five points from junior guard Madelynn Weaver in a quarter that ended with Faith leading 8-7. After an Izzy Steerman free throw put the Falcons up by two, Faith got four straight points from senior Hope Jackson, who despite limited playing time contributed nicely to the Falcon effort on this night, scoring four points while leading the team in rebounding, grabbing 10 boards.
"Hope came in and did an excellence job on the boards and really took a lot of second chance points away from the opponent," Kirkpatrick said. "She played a big part in the victory tonight."
Next, Faith got six consecutive points from Lohman and a three-pointer from sophomore guard Anna Goodloe to end the half, giving the Falcons a 22-16 lead heading to halftime.
Despite an uninspired defensive effort in the first half, Faith ramped things up in the third quarter, building a 32-21 lead midway through the quarter on the backs of Lohman, Steerman, and sophomore post Kenya Bolton, who finished with just seven points, but grabbed 10 rebounds and provided the Falcons with the necessary muscle inside to keep the visiting Loggers off the boards. Kirkpatrick said that while defense is normally a calling card of his team, this season's squad has struggled, but is working to get back to where he and they are accustomed.
"We've always been one of the top three defenses in the state, but this year we're giving up more than 30 points a game which we've never done, so we're trying to find ways to fix that," he said. "We're a little slower this year as a team, so we're trying to find some ways to compensate for that."
Knappa got back within six after junior captain Aiko Miller followed a long three-pointer with a runner in the lane, but Bolton scored five straight of her own, including a three-point play the old fashioned way, and from there the Falcons cruised to victory.
Kirkpatrick was obviously pleased with the outcome, but was equally frustrated with his team's performance despite the win.
"We've been getting in a habit of not running the plays properly and not moving the ball, because open players are there, we're just not seeing them," said the coach. "We sometimes get into a habit of wanting to score as fast as we can, and I want them to run the offense correctly to get the best shot possible."
Faith's recent loss to Nestucca likely cost them an opportunity for one of the league's at large bids to the state playoffs, but the Falcons are currently in a tie for third in the Northwest League and in-line for the league playoffs as they reach the midway point in the season. Kirkpatrick however is less inclined to talk about the postseason and more interested in focusing his attention on the continuing growth of his predominantly freshman and sophomore oriented team.
"This team is made up of 80 percent freshmen and sophomores, so we just all need to be on the same page at all times" said Kirkpatrick. "Our league has shown that anyone can beat anybody, so whoever makes it to the league playoff has a chance to win it. Our motto all year has been rise above, and we plan on continuing to do just that."
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