Alex Montsma (click for larger version)
February 14, 2012 | 05:32 PMWALWORTH TOWNSHIP — The stage was set, and it had all the makings of a classic.
On Monday night at Faith Christian School, the undefeated Faith boys basketball team hosted a fellow unbeaten, Rock County Christian. While most opponents haven't been able to match Faith's size all season, Rock County features three players 6-foot-4 or taller.
But what was supposed to be a tightly contested affair turned out to be just another easy win for the Eagles.
Despite falling behind 9-2 in the first quarter, Faith woke up and doubled up Rock County the rest of the way in a 62-40 drubbing. Faith improved to 18-0 overall. It is Faith's best start to a season since the 1985-1986 campaign, when the Eagles were 33-1. Rock County fell to 17-1.
An early timeout kicked Faith into gear, according to Faith coach Brian Pollard.
"We came out tight," Pollard said. "We were a little nervous playing against an undefeated team. We relaxed and refocused. We started acting instead of reacting. I told them we're fine."
Faith responded out of the early timeout with a 14-2 run to end the first quarter. Then, in the second quarter, the Eagles really poured it on. They reeled off a 17-7 second period led by six points each from Ben Sass and Adam Montsma to go up 33-18 at halftime. The Eagles cruised the rest of the way, flawlessly executing their offense possession after possession and shutting down Rock County with a physical 1-2-2 zone defense.
"They did a great job of running the offense," Pollard said. "We have a couple sets, and we have a lot of motion. Our bread and butter were our set plays where we ran screens and backdoor cuts."
Monstma, the area's leading scorer at 20 points per game, led all scorers with 26 points, including 23 in the first three quarters. Sass added 15 points and five in the fourth quarter. It was Sass's first game at 100 percent since recovering from severe flu symptoms. Joe Ingersoll added eight points, and Adam's twin brother Alex notched seven. The five Faith starters scored all of the team's points.
"I was really nervous in the beginning," Sass said. "I didn't know what to expect. Then I thought it's just a basketball game. I had the flu, and it just stuck with me. This week, I'm finally better."
Sophomore Jared Mulder, Faith's starting point guard, has been playing through severe stomach cramps for at least a month. However, Mulder ran the offense Monday night with precision and consistently found the open man.
"Our chemistry is great," Mulder said. "I've been playing with Adam and Alex Montsma and Joe (Ingersoll) since grade school. I know where they're going to be. The Montsmas have their little twin telepathy thing going on."
Sass, the team's lone senior starter, knows the club is for real.
"Last year, we weren't as comfortable with each other," he said. "It took two years to get real comfortable because I didn't play with the Montsmas until high school. We're all friends on and off the court. We go to movies and play XBox."
Faith continued its solid free-throw shooting, hitting nine of 14 for 64 percent. Faith held Rock County's star point guard Luitas Liutauras, a European exchange student, to 15 points, nearly six points below his season average.
The Eagles are gaining popularity and notariety. Monday night, the stands were packed to capacity along with fans standing on the side of the bleachers. Also, TMJ4's show, Preps Plus, aired a video on the team Sunday night. Pollard said his team played great Monday, and he hopes it can continue.
"We have a great group of guys," he said. "We don't talk about going undefeated. I don't care if we win the rest of our games, but I just hope we play like we did tonight. The best thing about these guys is they all like each other. They love that others succeed. As a coach, I like just being with them. It's been a fun year."
Finishing perfect means something to the players.
"It would be great to go undefeated," Mulder said. "If we lose, it just means we have stuff to work on. We can get better with less mistakes and less turnovers."
"I want to stick it out and go undefeated and have that feeling going into the playoffs," Sass said.