By DANIEL GREEN
PINEVILLE – The game was there for the taking.
But those missed opportunities proved too much to overcome as the Faith Training Christian Academy Lady Patriots fell to the top-seeded Southwest Louisiana Homeschool Lady Knights on Saturday in the ACEL state championship game at H.O. West Fieldhouse on the campus of Louisiana Christian University, 46-38.
“We fought back hard to send it to overtime. It just got away from us at the end,” Faith Training Christian Academy head coach Walter Young said. “But I’m proud of our girls and how we battled back.”
This final was a rematch of last year’s outing, which FTCA won at Pineville High School. And if the opening moments of the contest were an indication of what was to come, then it would have been a repeat.
Faith Training jumped out to a 7-0 lead before Southwest closed out the first quarter on a 12-0 run to claim a 12-7 advantage.
The Lady Patriots battled back to tie things on a couple of occasions in the second period at 13-13, 15-15 and 17-17, before a basket by Nevaeh Clophus allowed Southwest to go into the locker room with a 19-17 advantage.
FTCA came out of the locker room fresh and took advantage of JoHana Clophus being on the bench in foul trouble. The Lady Patriots doubled up on SWLA in the third, 12-6, opening up a 29-25 lead going into the final frame of regulation.
JoHana Clophus re-entered the game and connected on a three-pointer to get her team to within one and caused a turnover, which led to the Lady Knights opening up a 30-29 advantage.
Eventually, SWLA took a 36-33 lead with under two minutes to go in regulation and continued gunning from downtown. That allowed FTCA to get the ball down the court, where Keira Henry was fouled.
Henry connected on her first free throw, but missed the second. However, Julia Jenkins grabbed the rebound and put the ball in to tie the game at 36-36. Each team had a couple of possessions to close it out in regulation, but neither team converted, sending the game into the extra session.
Both teams scored in the opening minute of overtime to be tied at 38-38. But a driving layup by Nevaeh Clophus, followed by back-to-back threes from the junior, sealed the game for the Lady Knights, 46-38.
Although Young wished the outcome would have been different, he was proud of his team and is already looking forward to next year.
“We lose two seniors in Jordan Jenkins and Emily Dobbins, so we will be looking for someone to step up for us and compete,” Young said. “But we will have some veteran players back that know what it is like to win one of these and lose one. And Southwest will be right there with us.”
Nevaeh Clophus scored 24 points for the Lady Knights, while sister JoHana Clophus came in with 11 points. Ava Loewer chipped in with seven points.
Jordan Jenkins paced the Lady Patriots with 16 points, while Henry contributed seven points. Julia Jenkins finished with six points.
Later in the evening, Young was named the ACEL Girls’ Coach of the Year, while Henry and Kylie Fleshman won first-team all-state recognition. Jordan and Julia Jenkins were second-team all-state.