The Eagle men overcame their worst shooting peformance of the season as they defeated visiting Association Free Lutheran Bible School (AFLBS) 58-53. The win came on senior night for All American Tyler Betz, and was an exciting finish to a long day of basketball with the second day of the annual high school Midwest Invitiational Shootout which the Eagles host every year. Faith is now 7-10 on the year.
As has been the case for much of the second semester, the Eagles jumped out to quick lead off the tip, holding AFLBS scoreless through the first four minutes of the game while knocking in seven points for the 7-0 lead. Faith went 0-5 on their next four possessions while AFLBS got their offense going, stringing together their own 7-0 run to tie the game up at seven apiece. The game was then back and forth for the rest of the first half, as the Eagles just couldn't hit a basket, and at the end of the half, the game was tied at 26 apiece. Faith shot an abysmal 27% in the half. The second half was not much better offensively, as the Eagles shot 34%. However, Faith turned up the defensive intensity which proved to be the difference in the game.
With Faith trailing 48-47 with two minutes to play, Dillon Gingerich was fouled and made both free throws to give Faith the 49-48 lead. On the ensuing possession Eric Young jumped in front of a pass and hit Jordan Marshall in transition. Marshall finished the basket to give Faith a 51-48 lead and went to the line for the three point play. On the miss, the Eagles fouled AFLBS, who hit both free throws to pull back within one a 50-51. Faith missed their next shot and again committed a foul on the rebound, but AFLBS missed the front end of a one and one. On the ensuing possession Tyler Betz missed a shot but got his rebound and put the ball back in to give Faith the three point lead. Unfortunately, Faith again committed a foul and AFLBS converted one of two free throws to pull within two. Betz then scored again on the offensive end with just under a minute to play, but AFLBS quickly transitioned for an easy layup, keeping the margin at two. Faith got a great look at the basket, but missed, however they were able to grab the offensive rebound and were fouled. Unfortunately they missed the front end of a one and one but Dillon Gingerich made a great effort to grab the offensive rebound and was fouled. Gingerich hit one of two free throws to put the Eagles up by three. Faith then dodged a bullet on the ensuing AFLBS possession, when a miscommunication left AFLBS wide open at the three point line. AFLBS was unable to connect on the three and Betz secured the rebound and was fouled with two seconds to play. Betz hit both free throws to seal the game as the Eagles won 58-53.
Tyler Betz led all scorers with 28 points while grabbing eight rebounds. Jordan Marshall and Cooper Rodman handed out five assists each, with Marshall grabbing four steals and Rodman snatching three. As a team the Eagles outrebounded AFLBS 42-29, including 19 offensive rebounds, while grabbing 12 steals.
The Eagles will return to action next Tuesday, January 29, when they will host Nebraska Christian College in a 7 PM contest. Faith fell to Nebraska 69-78 earlier in the year. A win would pull the Eagles MCCC record even at 3-3.