In a matchup between local private school powerhouses boasting talented point guards, First Presbyterian Christian Academy won the first battle against Faith Baptist in December.
The Crusaders repaid the favor Tuesday night at the St. James Sports Center, beating the Highlanders 89-79 despite 38 points from FPCA point guard Jordan Johnson.
Johnson and Faith point guard Jaquez Motley combined for 66 of the game’s total points. They also proved to be the catalyst for some amazing moves and exciting moments.
The magnitude of the game shone through early, with both teams turning the ball over on their first possessions. Highlander D.J. Felder put in the opening points with a 3-pointer from the corner. Faith responded with a transition basket.
Johnson hit the first of eight first-half 3-pointers and the Highlanders took an 11-2 lead halfway into opening quarter. Johnson had 28 points in the first half. His movement allowed him some open looks from the arc but the adjusted Faith pressure forced him to also shoot off the dribble.
“Jordan just went unconscious shooting the ball in the first half,” FPCA Highlanders head coach David Jones said.
FPCA and Faith continued to fly up and down the floor, trading buckets and keeping the game close. Faith regained the lead in the final minutes of the first period and FPCA missed their final attempt to allow Faith a 25-21 lead.
Faith scored first in the beginning of the second quarter and FPCA’s Jarquez Smith matched with his own jumper to make the game 27-23. Johnson hit a 3-pointer to bring FPCA within a point. Rival point Motley added a trey of his own allowing the Crusaders to maintain a 30-26 lead. Motley added a pair of free throws to go up 32-26.
FPCA’s Johnson hit another 3-pointer to cut the Faith lead to 1 point.
The game remained tight, each guard matching the other. In the final minutes of the first half, Faith’s J.J. Frazier drove the lane, scoring on a layup and also hit his foul shot to put Faith up 45-40.
Johnson responded with basket, then hit his eighth 3-pointer of the half, off balance and in the corner, to tie the game at 45.
“We lost the first time we played this season by three points so we were motivated coming in. The game was moving faster and we were pretty consistent in a zone but we had to do something to stop Johnson from shooting since he was so hot. I was really pleased with the game Mo Lee had for us,” Faith Baptist coach Jared Sellars said.
Sellars’ team went to a more unconventional zone defense. Motley picked up Johnson in a tight man-to-man and the rest of the Crusaders played a zone.
Faith’s defensive change also dictated the Highlanders begin to pick up their inside game.
“We were shooting the ball well from the perimeter especially the way Jordan was but I knew that we had to get more players involved in the offense,” Jones said.
Faith came out of the half in a flurry. Motley, who had 19 second-half points, hit a 3-pointer to give Faith a 48-45 lead. The Crusaders scored another 6 unanswered points to extend the lead 54-45.
Both teams played a physical and emotional game, which resulted in three technical fouls, including two in the third quarter.
At the four-minute mark of the third quarter, Faith held a 61-51 lead. Felder hit a three and scored off a layup to make the score 61-55.
In the final minute of the third quarter, Jarquez Smith scored off a spin move and layup to make it a 2-point game. FPCA forced a turnover and the Highlanders’ Dominique Kirby came up with a loose ball and banked in a shot at the buzzer to tie the game at 65-65.
Faith’s Lee opened the fourth quarter with a quick 2 points. Lee had 10 points in the fourth quarter.
Motley had 5 points in a 7-point run by Faith to begin the fourth quarter. The Crusaders guarded their lead throughout the fourth quarter, only allowing FPCA to get within 6 points. Motley had a slam dunk in the final minutes to seal the game for Faith.
“We had too many turnovers tonight and they were able to capitalize on our turnovers. We played hard tonight. It’s a good win for Faith and I congratulate them. I’ve been coaching long enough to know you that you win with humility and you have to also to lose gracefully,” Jones said.
Johnson’s 38 points included 10 3-pointers. Felder had 19 points and Smith chipped in 14 points.
The Highlanders drop to 15-3 on the season.
“We are a good team and we know that. Playing teams like Faith only makes us better. Now we can start setting our goals and hopefully get in a position to win the region and get back in the state playoffs,” Jones said.
FPCA: Jordan Johnson 38, D.J. Felder 19, Jurquez Smith 14, Michael Tighe 4, Dominque Kirby 2
FBA: Jaquez Motley 28, Mo Lee 21, J.J. Frazier 14, Tracy Jester 13, Shavon Staves 8, Aaron Scott 2