Still in his first months as Faith Christian’s boys’ basketball coach, Robert Brothers knew that his team would face its toughest challenge Monday night.
Brothers had spent three years as Rocky Mount Academy’s JV coach, so he’d seen Raleigh St. David’s before.
His team hadn’t, and although they eventually found out how to play with the Warriors, the price to learn was far too steep for the Patriots.
After falling behind by 19 points in the first quarter, Faith Christian stumbled to its first Eastern Plains Independent Conference loss, 70-43.
“We kind of had that deer-in-the-headlights look,” Brothers said.
Faith Christian (7-5, 1-1 EPIC) didn’t respond well to the Warriors’ high-pressure, man-to-man defense, which Brothers said is hard to simulate in limited practice time.
In the first quarter alone, the Patriots committed 10 turnovers. Raleigh St. David’s (3-6, 1-1) forced them into a handful of bad plays and flustered them into even more unforced errors.
Faith Christian had discussed the importance of making the patient, correct plays in practice against the tight defensive pressure. It learned quickly that there was a difference between practice and a game.
“Talking about it and actually seeing it on the court are two different things,” Brothers said. “We saw first-hand how good that defense is.”
Once prepared for the Warriors to jump passing lanes, the Patriots were able to battle back, trimming the lead in the second quarter. Forward Zach Bryant scored eight of his team-high 15 points in the second quarter.
“I think it shocked us in the beginning, but once we calmed down and our nerves settled, we started playing better,” Bryant said. “We started playing as a team.”
But the pressure defense had done its job.
With a chance to pull closer, Faith Christian went cold from the field.
The Patriots went the first 10 minutes of the second half without a field goal and made just four in the final 16 minutes. The majority of that time came with both team’s starters on the bench.
“I was real proud of our team in the second quarter,” Brothers said. “ ... We knew they were going to show us a different look. We made a quick adjustment. They just had a lot more depth than we do. The kids will learn as the season goes on. We’ll keep trying and play hard next time.”
Brothers took over the team just 10 days before the start of the season and he said he believes his team will come together soon – like they did Monday.
“We’re preaching intensity and effort,” Brothers said. “... Play as hard as you can, be proud of what you did and leave it all out on the court. We haven’t quite put it all together, but I’ve seen flashes of it.”
In just two quarters, an even game turned into a 31-point deficit and eventually became a loss for the Faith Christian girls’ team.
Tied after the first quarter, the Patriots (6-2) fell behind after they were outscored, 41-10, in the second and third quarters combined.
Olivia Collins led Faith Christian with nine points.
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org