By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 21, 2011 1:47 PM
DURHAM -- The Faith Christian boys' basketball team certainly exceeded its expectations on the court this season.
The Conquerors' main goals were to perform well in N.C. Christian Schools Association Coastal 2-A region play, and qualify for the season-ending state tournament.
They did better than that.
Faith Christian seized the NCCSA Coastal regular-season and tournament crowns, and ended up fourth overall in the state after a season-ending, 64-62 loss to Trinity Christian-Greenville on Saturday morning.
"It's been a good year, a lot better than I thought it would have been," said Conquerors head coach Jeff Stocks. "Most of these guys played JV ball last year because we had so many seniors. This is the first time any of these kids had been to the state tournament.
"One of our goals this season was just to improve every game."
The Conquerors (20-8 overall) opened tournament play with a victory over Tri-City. Their state-title hopes ended with a 66-62 loss to tournament host Fellowship Christian on Friday.
Fellowship built as much as a 16-point, second-half advantage. Faith charged back to tie the game, but Fellowship closed the door by hitting 11 free throws in the final quarter.
Silas Denlinger led the Conquerors with 20 points. Aaron Hill scored 19, while Wes Caudle pumped in 13 points -- all in the second half.
Faith faced Trinity, a region opponent, for third-place honors.
"It was Saturday morning and you could tell neither team really wanted to be there," said Stocks. "It was slow ... an 'everybody is tired' type of game. It heated up in the fourth quarter.
"But I thought both teams were just draggy ... not interested, it seemed like."
Hill, a sophomore, paced Faith Christian's offense with 23 points. Matt Lambert, one of three seniors on the team, pumped in 18. Denlinger, a junior, contributed eight points. It was also the final game for Jordan Brown and Trey Jones.
"These guys really played hard all year," said Stocks. "I thought our defense and pressure made us competitive in every game because we are athletic. The shooting improved, but it was also our downfall."
Faith Christian was making its first state tournament appearance since 2008. The Conquerors won the 2-A championship in 2007.
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