Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

BREAKING: Free throws fuel Faith Christian over rival Williams Bay

by Mike Ramczyk

December 27, 2012

WILLIAMS BAY - Adam Montsma and his twin brother, Alex, are two of the best basketball players in Walworth County.

Along with three other starters, Faith Christian boasts a talented lineup.

But team depth is an issue, and it was tested Friday night in the championship game of the Williams Bay Sports Boosters Holiday Tournament against Faith's Highway 67 rival, the Bulldogs.

Although the Montsmas each played most of the fourth quarter with four fouls, the seniors displayed nerves of steel down the stretch. They combined to hit 11-of-12 free throws in the final two minutes to help the Eagles pull away with a 64-49 victory over a gamed, scrappy Bay squad.

With the win, Faith Christian improved to 6-1. The Bay fell to 3-6.

"We played smart and kept our composure," said Adam Montsma, who is fourth in the state with 29 points per game.

"I didn't know I had four fouls until coach told me," Alex Montsma said after the game. "I was like, 'Oh, I better back off.'"

"This is what high school basketball should be," Pollard said. "It was great. The Montsmas did a good job of not fouling out. That was key for us."

Williams Bay coach Troy Nottestad had a game plan coming in to wear out the under-manned Eagles, and Faith's foul trouble played into Bay's favor. However, Nottestad warned his guys to keep Faith off the charity stripe. That didn't happen.

Faith hit 25-of-31 free throws to only 10-of-13 for the Bay. Ultimately, the extra shots allowed Faith to turn a five-point lead into a double-digit advantage late in the game.

"We competed tonight, but we had trouble scoring," Nottestad said. "Faith Christian is a good team. We were right there with them, but we just couldn't get the ball in the hole. This is probably the best we've executed a game plan all year. I drew it up before the game that they are excellent free-throw shooters. We saw that down the stretch."

Faith jumped out to a 12-2 lead early and never trailed. The Eagles led, 32-23, at the half, and 41-33 after three quarters.

Bay point guard Adam Lechelt single-handedly brought his team back in the fourth. Early in the period, Lechelt scored five straight points, and a John Higgins put-back cut the Faith lead to 45-40.

Later, a second Lechelt triple made it 49-43 with five minutes to play.

With the Montsmas in foul trouble, Faith junior Joe Ingersoll stepped up. The 6-foot-2 forward, who had battled all night in the paint with Higgins, knocked down two foul shots and put Faith up 53-43 with a layup after back-breaking execution of the team's half-court offense.

With both teams in the bonus the entire fourth quarter, Faith connected on 14-of-15 foul shots, and the Bay only hit 2-of-3.

Alex Montsma led Faith with 22 points, and Adam Montsma added 21. Lechelt scored 22 points to pace the Bay.

"We have been playing with Joe (Ingersoll) and Jared Mulder since junior high, so we know where everyone's at and our strengths and weaknesses," Alex said.

Faith fell, 57-45, to the Division 5 defending state champions, Racine Lutheran, back on Dec. 7 but has since won four straight. Last year, the Eagles started 24-0 before falling in the playoffs. The Montsmas said the early loss this season may have been a good thing.

"After that loss, our practices were a lot tougher and more physical," Alex Montsma said. "Coach scheduled tougher teams this year, so it will help us in the regionals."

Faith faces the likes of Burlington Catholic Central, Milwaukee Destiny, who features Division 1 recruit Jerrelle Deberry and Milwaukee Academy of Science in the next month. The Academy of Science, currently ranked No. 6 in Division 5, eliminated Faith from the playoffs last year.

"I'm happy with where we're at," Pollard said. "We're playing good basketball. We are hustling and playing like a team."

Ingersoll finished with 14 points. The Bay's Sergey Klyukvin tallied 10.

Faith travels to Maranatha Baptist Friday, while the Bay hosts Milwaukee Academy of Science Thursday.