View slideshow Eagles triumphant in State playoff game, defeat Holy Martyrs (VIDEO, PODCAST)
FC wins by 12, advances to 2nd round State Division V playoffs
Senior Chandler Vargas shot two consecutive three-pointers in the first quarter to pace the Eagles to a CalState round one playoff win, March 7. Vargas scored 15 points as FC beat Holy Martyrs Armenian (Encino,CA), 70-58.
BOYS' BASKETBALL SPORTS SHORTS, 2011-12
(Scrimmages do not count toward win/loss record. Visit the Sports Section for boys' basketball features.) For a simple overview of scores and upcoming games, check the Winter sport box scores, 2011-12 for dates, opponents and times for all Eagle sports.
Be sure to visit the 2011-12 boys' basketball schedule, home page, roster page, or check out Maxpreps.com. FC finished 7-1 in the West Sequoia League. The Eagles are currently 25-2 overall as of March 7. According to Maxpreps.com, FC has the 4th best record in the state for D-V basketball. No. 8-seed FC will travel to face the No. 1-seeded St. Bernard Vikings, Saturday March 10 at 7 p.m.
BOYS' BASKETBALL, 2011-12
FC STAYS ALIVE WITH WIN OVER ARMENS, March 7.
After coming off of their Valley Championship win over Laton, the Eagles hosted the No. 9-seeded Holy Martyrs, March 7. It was win or go home for both teams. The Eagles led the entire game and, although it was a fight to the finish, FC came out on top, 70-58, to advance to the second round.
This was not the first time the Eagles had seen the Holy Martyrs. In 2010, FC traveled down to San Diego to play in the Tri-City Christian Holiday tournament. It was in that very tournament that the Armens blew by FC, outscoring them 96-61.
The Eagles had a great deal of motivation going into the game. First, if they lost, their season would come to an abrupt end. Also, this was the last time the seven seniors would play a game in their home gym. FC hoped to protect their house and go undefeated at home. Furthermore, a win would undoubtedly cement their team in school history. With a record of 24-2, the Eagles were one win away from becoming the winningest boys basketball team in Fresno Christian history.
Three-year varsity point guard Brady Lee has been playing for FC since his elementary days. Knowing this would be his last game at home, he did not want to have any regrets. Lee, who finished with 12 points, shares his thoughts minutes before the game.
"Everything kind of hit me while I was listening to the National Anthem," Lee said. "It began to sink in that I would never play a high school game in this gym ever again. I wanted to leave everything on the court and play my best."
"We played one of our best games of the year last night. Our defense was extremely solid, which made it difficult for the the Holy Martyrs to score. The entire team played well, but I throughout that Chandler Vargas had one of his best games that I have ever seen. His shot was on and his defense was stifling." --Head coach Josh Justin
The stands were packed as fans cheered on their teams. Both teams went at it from the start of the tip. The Eagles played half court defense and forced the Armens to attack the hoop. Though the Holy Martyrs had a significant height advantage in the post, senior Ryan Neufeld played lock down defense in the paint. Neufeld later finished the game with 5 points, 5 assists and 11 rebounds. Senior Cooper Belmont caught fire and drained jumpers in transition. He later went on to be the game high scorer with 23 points. Senior Chandler Vargas, who finished with 15 points, hit 2 3's in the first to spark his team. FC fans were on their feet as the Eagles scored bucket after bucket. Going into the second, FC led, 18-6.
Coach Josh Justin is proud of his team's strong performance. He feels like his team's defense was a huge factor to their victory.
"We played one of our best games of the year last night," Justin said. "Our defense was extremely solid, which made it difficult for the the Holy Martyrs to score. The entire team played well, but I throughout that Chandler Vargas had one of his best games that I have ever seen. His shot was on and his defense was stifling."
The Eagles came out pumped up in the second quarter. They continued to score multiple points off of fast breaks. The Armens hit a couple 3's to get back in the game. They attacked the hoop and got FC in foul trouble. Slowly but surely the Holy Martyrs began making a comeback. The Eagles responded by working the ball around and scoring in the halfcourt set. Belmont scored 7 in the second to give his team momentum. Senior Tyler Krigbaum, who finished with 9 points and 5 rebounds, contributed by scoring in the low post. The score went back and forth as both teams battled for control. At the end of the second the Eagles were up, 37-27.
Neufeld was focused on coming out and playing Eagle basketball. He shares his thoughts about the game.
With Holy Martyrs closing the gap to 5 points in the third quarter, senior Cooper Belmont scored 2 three-pointers in less than 20 seconds to put the game out of reach, March 7. Belmont finished with 23 points and the Eagles defeated the Armens, 70-58, to advance to the second round of the CIF CalState Division V playoffs.
"We knew it was a big game because it was state playoffs, Neufeld said. "We came out really hot, we hit a lot of shots and played some good defense to start out the game. That carried out throughout the game as we kept the intensity up."
The heated battle continued during the third quarter. The score kept going back and forth between the two teams. The game tempo was fast as the players hustled down the court and played tenacious defense. The Holy Martyrs scored off of drives to the hoop and free throws. Belmont hit back to back 3's in the third to garner cheers from the home crowd. Going into the final quarter, FC led, 52-41.
During the fourth quarter the Holy Martyrs executed a full court press. Eagle guards broke the press off the dribble. They also passed the ball up the court and scored lay-ups in transition. Vargas picked up his 5th and final foul early in the fourth quarter. With Vargas out of the game, the Eagles struggled on defense. The Armen's went on a streak and began bridging the point margin. They were able to cut FC's lead to 5 points with minutes remaining.
Electricity was in the air as fans rooted for their boys. The hyped up game was turning into a nail biter. Lee, who finished with 12 points, hit a 3 to give his team a much needed boost. The point guard later went on to hit 2 free throws to increase his team's lead. FC played solid defense and prevented the Armens from getting ahead. The Eagles rallied together and finished strong. They ended with a hard fought, 70-58 victory over the Holy Martyrs.
The Eagles have broken the winning record set by the 1991 boys' basketball team. Justin shares his thoughts on this special accomplishment
"It feels great to be a part of the winningest boy's basketball team in Fresno Christian history," Justin said. "This team has worked so hard throughout the year, and truly deserve the distinction of being the winningest team in school history."
Justin is excited to face the top-seeded St. Bernard Vikings. Though the Vikings outsize the Eagles across the board, Justin has faith in his team. He believes anything could happen through hard work and solid execution.
"This is an amazing opportunity and we are looking forward to it," Justin said. "Their size will make it tough on us, but if we play hard and execute our game plan, who knows what could happen."
Neufeld has the same mindset as his coach regarding Saturday's game. He hopes to play the best he has ever played.
"I think if we play one of our best games we have a chance," Neufeld said. "You never know what can happen. It's pretty surreal."
The No. 8 Eagles will next travel to Playa Del Rey, California, to face the No. 1-seeded St. Bernard Vikings, Saturday, March 10, at 7 p.m. In order to keep up with the CalState Division V tournament, follow along with the playoff bracket.
For more information on the Eagles' season, check out Boys' basketball sport shorts: Eagles soar at Selland, win back-to-back Valley championships or FC wins 2nd consecutive Valley Championship.
PODCAST: Eagles Division V champs, State playoffs next: March 9 , 2012--