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Grace sweeps MDCC twinbill against Faith

January 05, 2007|by CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

Grace Academy junior Kelsey Shaffer was having a game to forget from the free-throw line Thursday night against Faith Christian.

Shaffer had made only 3 of 9 free throws when she was fouled while trying to put back an offensive rebound with 2 seconds left in regulation.

Shaffer's confidence got no better when the first of two free throws fell short. But she regrouped, toed the line once again and watched as the second shot bounced off the front iron, then the back before falling through to give Grace a 31-30 Mason Dixon Christian Conference victory.

Grace made it an MDCC sweep as the boys edged Faith 50-47 in the nightcap.

"I was really nervous, super nervous," said Shaffer, who finished with six points. "Once it went in, I tried to act like it wasn't that big, but on the inside I was so excited."

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Shaffer's free throw capped a 6-0 run over the last 5 1/2 minutes to lift Grace (7-2, 4-1) to its fourth straight victory. Faith (4-8, 2-2) turned the ball over five times over the last four minutes as it dropped its third in a row.

"We let it slip away," said Faith coach Brock Keppley. "We should have been able to take advantage of some things, but we didn't. It was really the first type of game that was that close for us. It might have been nerves."

Trailing 30-26, Rebecca Morgan forced a steal and ran the floor for a layup to close the gap to two. On the next Knights possession, Kristin Serafini inbounded the ball to Morgan, who gave it back to Serafini for the game-tying bucket.

"We've been in games like this," said Grace coach Diana Serafini. "We had a game go into double overtime, then we had a game when we lost by one point. We're used to this."

Morgan led Grace with 14 points - nine in the first half - and made two steals and hit two baskets during an 8-0 run that gave Grace a 16-10 lead late in the second quarter.

Faith cut the gap to 16-13 before halftime.

The Falcons opened the second half with baskets by Emma Cook and Hannah Carter to take a 17-16 lead. The teams exchanged baskets throughout the third and Cook added another basket at the end of the period to give Faith a 26-25 advantage. The Falcons opened the lead to 30-25 in the fourth quarter before Grace closed strongly.

"We felt really good," Keppley said. "We had one of their better rebounders (Cassie Johns) in foul trouble and we were in good shape. But we couldn't finish it."

Cook had 10 points and Carter added eight for the Falcons.

n The Grace boys also got a late lift from the free-throw line to close out Faith.

Chris Apple hit a 3-pointer to pull Faith to within one at 48-47 and the Falcons were forced to foul on the ensuing inbounds. Nick Bunting went to the line and sank both foul shots to give Grace a 50-47 advantage with 12 seconds remaining.

Bunting hit 5 of 7 free throws in the fourth quarter and was 4-for-4 in the final 40 seconds.

"(Bunting) is pretty cool under pressure," said Grace coach John Basore. "He usually makes about 90 percent of his foul shots in practice, so we can usually count on him."

After Bunting put the Knights (5-6, 3-3) ahead by three, Faith (6-4, 3-2) called a timeout to set up the potential game-tying play. The Falcons tried to create an open shot for H.B. Dunham, but Grace forced him to pass and Faith couldn't get a shot off before the buzzer.

"At the end we went to a triangle-and-two," Basore said. "We wanted to keep (Chris) Apple and (Dunham) from getting an open shot."

Grace suffered through a 7-minute scoring drought in the second quarter, but still managed to take an 18-14 lead into halftime after a 3 by Noah King. The Knights opened the second half with an 8-0 run to take a 26-14, leading to a timeout by Faith.

Out of the timeout, Austin Arvon hit a basket to stop the bleeding and the Falcons went on to outscore the Knights 21-8 to take a 35-34 lead into the fourth quarter.

Grace's big men took over in the fourth quarter as the Knights weathered the back-and-forth, physical play. Jamie Heckman and Zack Koontz combined for 10 rebounds in the final period until the Knights finally outlasted the Falcons.

Koontz finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Heckman had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

"Our goal was to never give up a second shot," Basore said. "Our two big guys crashed the boards and kept their big guy (Apple) out of the game."

Apple was held to just six points - all in the second half for Faith. Jacob Cave and Alex Skarbeck each had six rebounds, while Arvon had five to go with six assists.

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