JOPLIN, Missouri—After two consecutive nights of unthinkable comebacks and last-second miracles, the Faith Eagles are bringing home the conference title.
Twenty four hours after Kalab Sidlinger buried a last-second three-point basket against top seed Manhattan Christian to send the Eagles to the conference title game, Faith mounted another improbable second-half comeback against Calvary, trailing by as many as 16 points, and once again scored in the final second to win the tournament championship.
The Eagles dug themselves an early 10-0 hole before Jayce Goergen broke the ice with a long three-pointer. The entire first half was an uphill battle as Calvary built a 32-19 halftime lead. Faith shot a dismal 33.3 percent for the half (3-of-9 from three), and had 10 turnovers to just four assists.
After falling behind by 16 to start the second half, the Eagles made their run, outscoring the Warriors 19-4 in the span of six minutes to tie the game at 38.
The game seesawed back and forth for the remaining 13 minutes, with six lead changes and three ties. Calvary built its lead back to seven with two minutes remaining, and it looked like the Eagles may have run out of wind, but a big Nathan Keck three-pointer cut the lead back to four with 1:55 to play. A little more than a minute later, Keck struck again with another huge three to tie the game at 60 with 46 seconds to play.
After a pair of defensive stops, the Eagles had the final shot and worked the clock all the way down to the final second when Nathan Keck took a shot to win it. Keck missed, but drew a foul with one second remaining and calmly drained his first free throw to give the Eagles the one-point lead. He missed the second, but a last-desperation heave by Calvary was far short, and the Eagles celebrated as conference champions.
Coach Brian Fincham could not have been more proud of his team, which has shown huge amounts of fight and determination throughout the 2019-20 season.
"I was just really impressed with how the guys continued to battle for all 40 minutes of every game," said Fincham. "We got down in every game and they didn't quit. They just kept coming back, kept fighting back, and kept believing. Great leadership from our captain Tanner Van Beek, and great plays from everyone. They are such a joy to coach."
The team travels back to Ankeny for a short rest before hitting the road again for the regional tournament in Ellendale, North Dakota. The Eagles will play Friday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. against an opponent to be determined.