Falcons ready to run in CVCL

Forest Lake lacks height, but uses quickness to pile up 9 non-league victories
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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LAKE OF THE PINES — Nathan Burnett figures if other teams can’t catch him and his Forest Lake Christian teammates, they’ll have a tough time keeping the Falcons off the scoreboard. The Forest Lake boys basketball team is banking on its team speed and quickness this season as it heads into Central Valley Christian League play, beginning Friday at Foresthill. “We have a really tough league, but if we push the ball I think teams are going to have a tough time keeping up,” said Burnett, Forest Lake’s lone returning starter from last season. At 6-3, Burnett is one of the few Falcons with size. Speedy guards John McDonald, Michael Sparling and Brandon Camacho are triggering Forest Lake’s potent running game. New addition Robert Bristol is also thriving in the high-paced attack after starring at now-defunct Auburn Christian School last season. “We don’t have a lot of size,” co-coach Dave Thomas said. “We do have quickness and skill. We play an exciting style. We put a lot of pressure on other teams and try to fast break. We’re excited about this team.” Bristol, a 6-1 senior, leads the team with 16 points per game, along with six rebounds. McDonald is a deadly outside shooter who already has 25 3-pointers through 15 games. He averages 14.5 points per game. Sparling and Camacho — the son of co-coach Jason Camacho — both average close to nine points per game and Burnett chips in with seven points and seven boards. Forest Lake has size on the bench with 6-5 junior Jesse Poppin. Sophomore Chase Augustino another scoring option off the bench. The Falcons’ defense is a key to its offensive efficiency. They average nearly 14 steals per game as a team and Thomas said the full-court pressure produces valuable points for the undersized team. “We’re not quite as efficient in the half-court offense,” Thomas said. Forest Lake posted a 9-6 record in the non-league season, including impressive wins over Foresthill, Golden Sierra and Vacaville Christian. Tight losses to San Juan and Woodland Christian helped build confidence for the team, which finished 11-15 overall last year. McDonald said he entered this season with a new mindset. “I had a different perspective last season and I grew a lot,” McDonald said. “I think I learned how to lead. This team is unselfish. We all will do whatever it takes to win and our focus is in the right place, on and off the court.” The CVCL has become a very competitive league. Victory Christian is a perennial power in Division V. Sacramento Waldorf has one of the top scorers in the Sac-Joaquin Section in senior Chris Schwartz-Edmisten. Woodland Christian is very athletic and Foresthill is much-improved. “It’s a tough league, but we’ve competed well against some good teams so far,” Thomas said. “I think if we work hard on our defense and play good, fundamental basketball, we can surprise a lot of teams. This is a special team.”