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Lions do battle with Warriors
Faith Christian took the Providence Christmas Tournament title back to Yuba City after beating American Christian Academy in the championship games of the boys and girls brackets on Saturday in Orland.
The Lions varsity boys team defeated the Eagles 75-43 and the varsity girls team won 48-22.
Providence overcame a six-point third-quarter deficit to beat Mercy 46-39 in the third-place game of the four-team boys tournament. The Warriors took third place in the four-team girls tournament with a 45-15 victory against host Providence.
Providence 46, Mercy 39 (boys)
Mercy just didn't have an answer for Providence's junior guard Matthew Reese, and they watched him put up 35 points and rally the Lions to a 46-39 victory on Saturday.
Reese scored the Lions' first 11 points, hitting three 3-pointers in the first quarter, and scored 10 points in the third quarter as Providence overcame a six-point deficit.
Nerves and trouble catching the ball contributed to the Lions slow start but as Reese became more comfortable getting his teammates involved on offense, scoring lanes opened up, Providence coach Michael Nevens said.
"It's just a matter of us growing, particularly for (Reese) to grow and trust his teammates," Nevens said.
Mercy scored the first five points of the second half and took a 27-21 lead, but struggled the rest of the way, especially in the fourth quarter when a scoring drought of nearly six minutes at the start of the period gave Providence a 40-33 lead.
Barrett Lely hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter and finished with four points. Tucker Hoffman also scored four points for Providence.
The Lions lost just one senior to graduation from last season and the experience the underclassmen gained last year, combined with a year of growth, have Nevens optimistic about Providence's future.
"All of our freshmen got bigger and older so it's kind of like we picked up three or four new guys because they all grew a lot in the last year. I'm excited for where they're going and I think the next couple years we'll turn into a pretty good basketball team," Nevens said.
Adil Syed led Mercy with 13 points and William Gentry scored nine points. Tommy Garcia and Harlow Johnson chipped in six points each and Francesco Addonizio scored four.
"We're young, inexperienced and we don't shoot the ball very well but we'll get better, it's a learning process. We just need to grow up some, we have three sophomores starting and they just haven't quite stepped up to that varsity level yet," Mercy coach Steve Shellabarger said.
Faith Christian 68, Providence 32
American Christian 60, Mercy 38
Mercy 45, Providence 15 (girls)
Led by freshman Cheyanne Johnson and sophomore Marissa Starman, Mercy overwhelmed Providence 45-15 in the third-place game on Saturday.
The inexperience of Providence, which has three freshmen, three sophomores and just two upper-classmen, showed through against a much taller and experienced Mercy squad.
Johnson and Starman scored 15 points each and the Warriors' defense stifled the Lions' offense all four quarters. Junior guard Michelle Jaramillo scored six points and junior forward Julia Misslin added four.
"We're post-oriented right now, we only have three perimeter players," Mercy coach Steve Shellabarger said. "We start a freshman and sophomore and the two seniors we have, one is inexperienced and the other hasn't seen a lot of playing time."
Freshman Kayla Tuma led Providence with nine points and sophomore Mikala Baugher chipped in with four.
Amanda Edmondson gave the Lions a 2-0 lead early in the first quarter but the Warriors closed out the period with a 10-0 run. Mercy extended the lead in the second quarter before Tuma made a steal and led a fast break before halftime, but the Warriors held a 24-5 lead at intermission.
"We're starting to take care of the ball better. We're getting the shot clock down to where we want it, we want to shoot the ball with 10 to 12 seconds left, we don't want to up the tempo because we only have six or seven players," Shellabarger said.
The Warriors had just one player on the bench and, when one fouled out, had to keep most of the starters in the game. Jessica Curl, a 6-foot-2 post player, will join the team at the end of the month after sitting out eight games due to Northern Section rules for transfer students.
The Lions put together a 6-2 run late in the third quarter, cutting the Warriors' lead to 31-11, but the burst of offense faded in the fourth quarter against Mercy's tough defense.
Providence coach Laurel Cleek has high hopes for her team in a few years but knows their youth and size will make this year a growing experience, especially after the Lions didn't field a girls basketball team last season.
"Five years ago we had a young team like this that came and was a championship team in our league for two years — this team really has that potential," Cleek said.
The Lions are working on passing and getting comfortable running an offense after not having a team last year.
"It's a growing team, they have a lot of character and they don't give up," she said.
American Christian 39, Mercy 38
Faith Christian 40, Providence 23
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.