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Heritage Christian girls are FCC champs

Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 at 4:09 pm

Heritage Christian College won its second consecutive FCC championship. Photo/Rick Pedone

By Rick Pedone
Sports Editor
The Heritage Christian Lady Eagles won their second consecutive Florida Christian Conference state championship Saturday with a second half surge that powered the Lady Eagles past Grace Christian, 40-24.
The news wasn’t so good for the Heritage boys, who lost their championship game against West Melbourne, 62-58.
The games were played at the Johnson University gym.
Tournament MVP Sian Archibald propelled the Lady Eagles to victory by scoring 11 of her game-high 24 points in the third quarter.
The Lady Eagles (22-5) struggled in the first half, taking a 12-11 advantage to the intermission.
“Grace did a good job of slowing us down, making us play their game, with a 1-3-1 zone,” Heritage Coach Jim Estrella said. “I told the girls at halftime that we had to play faster. I knew that they were going to come back out in that 1-3-1. We had to run. Our girls have to play fast.”
Archibald executed the up-tempo strategy perfectly, pushing the ball up the floor and often beating Grace to the basket in the second half.
“We knew we had to play better against their zone. We had to keep picking and rolling,” she said.
Archibald said that winning the championship this year feels just as good as winning the first last season.
“They feel different, but they both feel great,” she said.
Teammate Tatyana Lyons collected her fifth conference championship in three years counting three volleyball titles.
Syanne Rowe, Ana Ortiz, Alexis Greaves, Laura Torres, Rachel Watts, Luckysha Gentles, Gianna Ennis, Brianna McGaha and Mikayla Puckering all played roles during the team’s championship drive.
The Heritage boys (23-6) were on the cusp of matching the Lady Eagles’ feat, leading by four, 56-52, late in the fourth quarter. But, West Melbourne took a 57-56 lead with under two minutes left.
Heritage’s AJ Archibald, who was almost unstoppable in the paint, scored the Eagles’ last bucket to make it 58-57 moments later, but West Melbourne closed out the game by scoring the last five points in the final 35 seconds.
Archibald led the Eagles with 24 points. Orlando Rivera scored 17.
“I knew it was going to be a close game. We split during the regular season,” Estrella, who coached both the boys and girls teams, said.
“We were up by four in the fourth quarter, but then we couldn’t get our shots to go down.”
Estrella said that his team played hard and it played well.
“I can’t think of anything else we could have done. It was a good game, and hats off to them for hitting the shots they needed to hit to win it,” he said.
The Heritage JV boys won their title game, 71-40, under Coach Nate Shell. Ryan Solono scored 22 for Heritage, which finished 21-6.