While it would have been suitable for Jehovah-Jireh to celebrate its share of the District 8-C championship, coach Dirk Ricks had his eye on a bigger prize and with that in mind, a certain disdain after his team’s performance.
“We didn’t complete the task; we halfway did it,” Ricks said after a 70-50 victory Friday over Family Christian Academy. “We did it in spurts, and that’s not what you’re looking for at this time of the year.”
Jehovah-Jireh (22-10, 6-0) extended its win streak to 11 games and claimed a share of the district title with two remaining league games next week.
Forward Trenton Payne scored 24 and guard Jaron Davis had 20 to pace Jehovah-Jireh’s victory and possibly push the Warriors’ power rating among the state’s top five entering the state playoffs.
“They’re one of the really tough teams,” FCS coach David Castillo said. “They’ve got a chance to win a state championship. They keep the pressure up. It’s hard to play with them all the time.”
Ricks would have liked to see his team operate at an optimum level for longer stretches.
Jehovah-Jireh, which had previous wins over FCA by 38 and 40 points, respectively, showed signs of living up to Ricks’ expectations with a 43-22 halftime lead in which the Warriors shot 53 percent and forced 10 turnovers.
Payne scored 16 of his game-high total during the first half with Davis adding 11.
“I’m not going to use being young, because we should be past that,” Ricks said of his team which features no seniors and one junior. “We just have to show up, and as players you should want to play a complete game.”
FCA (21-18, 6-2) led for three minutes during a first quarter that was tied six times.
The Flames trailed by 25 points (47-22) at the 5:05 mark of the third quarter when leading scorer Cameron Crump scored on consecutive baskets during an 8-0 run. That turned into a 15-2 spurt that left the Warriors with 49-37 when guard Jordan Plain (14 points) completed a three-point play.
Guard Daylan Landry (14 points) hit the third of his four 3-pointers and Crump knocked down a 15-footer, drawing FCA to within 53-42 with 7:08 left in the game, when Jehovah-Jireh answered and stretched its lead once again.
The Warriors, who suffered 12 of their 14 turnovers in the second half and made 9-of-22 free throws overall, went on a 9-0 run with Davis completing a three-point play.
Payne came back from a lower leg injury early in the third quarter to finish around the rim with just under five minutes left for a 64-44 advantage, capping a span for his team of six consecutive field goals.
“They stepped it up in the fourth quarter to stretch the lead back out,” Ricks said. “We shouldn’t have been in that position. Hat’s off to (FCA) for playing hard. They pretty much the things they wanted to do and we didn’t do the things we’ve done in the past.”