United Faith’s Falcons pulled out a close nonconference matchup Friday at the Charlotte Hoops Challenge, slipping past the Concord First Assembly Eagles 78-72 at Rocky River High.
Falcons senior guard Jalen Knight had 25 points to lead United Faith, including nine fourth-quarter points. Knight also went 7-of-8 from the free-throw line in the final eight minutes as Concord First Assembly (4-2) was forced to foul to try to claw back from behind.
After trailing for most of the game, the Eagles tied the score at 70 with 2 minutes, 45 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but the Falcons (6-0) outscored Concord First Assembly 8-2 the rest of the way for the win.
“We came together as a team, decided to play hard, stayed focused and came out with the win,” said Knight. “Coach (Josh Coley) kept us in the game and it was all good.”
Brett Swilling scored 20 points for the Falcons, including three 3-point shots, and KC Hankton added 17 points and 14 rebounds for United Faith. Jason Thompson added 14 points and 16 rebounds.
Two of the biggest factors in the Falcons’ win was forcing 21 turnovers and holding the Eagles to 1-of-12 shooting from 3-point range.
“We preach to our guys turning defense to offense,” United Faith coach Coley said. “We preach to them that to get easy baskets, and kids love easy baskets, is to turn the other team over. We challenge them to take pride in stopping someone before anything offensively.”
Stephen Edoka led Concord First Assembly with 26 points and 16 rebounds. Lazar Popovic scored 15 and Amari Waddell 12.
The Falcons practiced for an hour in their own gym before heading over to Rocky River for the game, as Coley said, to “get the turkey off of them.” … Knight thas committed to University of Hartford. … Waddell had a 10-point third quarter and 12 points overall before fouling out with seven minutes left in the game.
Three who mattered
Jalen Knight, United Faith: The lone senior and captain for United Faith had a team-high 25 points, and went 13-of-16 from the free-throw line and had three assists in a team-high 32 minutes. He made 7-of-8 free throws in the fourth quarter.
Stephen Edoka, First Assembly: A junior shooting guard, his 26 points came on 11-of-17 shooting.
KC Hankton, United Faith: A 6-foot-8 forward, his 17 points included three 3-pointers.
They said it
“We got down early and I kind of felt like we were playing catch-up most of the game. Right when we finally started to hit our stride and got into a rhythm we had Amiri (Waddell) foul out; and then soon after him our big guy Lazar (Popovic) foul out, so we got real small at the end, and the clock ran out. We had 21 turnovers, which really killed us. It’s tough to win with 21 turnovers.” – Concord First Assembly coach Frank Cantadore.
United Faith is off until next Friday when it will travel to Hickory to meet University Christian. Concord First Assembly will play at Weddington on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
CONCORD FIRST ASSEMBLY 17 24 15 16 - 72
UNITED FAITH 25 22 14 17 - 78
CONCORD FIRST ASSEMBLY: Stephen Edoka 26, Lazar Popovic 15, Amari Waddell 12, Morris 8, Felder 4, Strahinja 4, Edwards 3.
UNITED FAITH: Jalen Knight 25, Brett Swilling 20, KC Hankton 17, Jason Thompson 14, Jenkins 2.
Friday: Butler girls 52, Charlotte Latin 36; Burlington School girls 48, Charlotte Christian 26; United Faith 78, Concord First Assembly 72; York Prep (SC) 71, New Hampstead 65; Burlington School 52, Ardrey Kell 48; Conrad Academy (Fla.) 66, Independence 62; Providence Day 50, South Mecklenburg 31; Providence Day 74, Rocky River 62
Saturday: No. 9 Ardrey Kell vs. Burlington School (Girls), 10 a.m.; Concord First Assembly at No. 13 Rocky River (Girls), 11:30 a.m.; Berry vs. New Hampstead (Boys), 1; Charlotte Catholic vs. Burlington School (Boys), 2:30; Conrad Academy vs. Bishop Sullivan (Boys), 4; South Mecklenburg vs. Concord (Boys), 5:30; No. 4 Davidson Day vs. No. 7 Providence Day (Girls), 7; No. 4 Providence Day vs. No. 2 Jay M. Robinson (Boys), 8:30
*-Rankings from Observer Sweet 16 poll **-Game ended after print deadline. Coverage at charlotteobserver.com/sports/high-school