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Forest Lake falls short in section final

By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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SACRAMENTO — Forest Lake Christian counted on a stern test from Bradshaw Christian in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championship game Friday night at Arco Arena. The Falcons expected a speedy, athletic, sharp-shooting squad, but they didn’t expect to see an inside force like J.J. Mina. The Bradshaw Christian junior stole the show from Falcons’ star junior Josh Ritchart to lead the Pride to a 55-52 victory in the Division V title game. Mina came up with 26 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks, leading the Pride to their first section title. “The Lord’s really worked him over and he really stepped up tonight,” said Bradshaw coach Mike Ruble, who also coached the Pride girls to a section title on Friday. Forest Lake struggled shooting the ball from the perimeter all game long, but senior Johnny Umamoto drilled a 3-pointer with 5 minutes, 10 seconds left in the game to give the Falcons a 42-40 lead. The game went back and forth over the final five minutes. Bradshaw senior Marcus Turner drilled a 3-pointer from the corner and Mina scored a layin with 13 seconds left to put the Pride up by three points. Ritchart finished with 23 points, eight rebounds and five blocks, but he was double-teamed on the Falcons’ final possession. He found senior Matt Masterson at the top of the 3-point arc, but his shot came up short and Turner rebounded the miss to seal the win. “Our team really battled and they had some really athletic, talented guys,” said Masterson, who transferred to Forest Lake from El Camino prior to his senior season. “They got the upper hand with the 3 they hit at the end. I missed a pretty easy shot that I had at the end there.” Masterson grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds and Umamoto finished with nine points for the Falcons, who shot 38 percent from the field, including just 1-for-13 from 3-point land. “Outside shooting has been our weakness all season, but to hit one- that’s low, even for us,” Forest Lake coach Dave Thomas said. “I thought we played well. We have nothing to hang our heads about after this one. Some considered the Falcons a long shot to return to the section title game after they won the school’s first championship last year at Arco. But Ritchart returned as one of the top players in the section and an unsung senior class emerged to lead Forest Lake back. “We lost three big scorers from last year,” said Ritchart, who teamed up with his brother Andrew Ritchart last season. “I started playing a lot better this year and everybody really stepped up. Definitely after making it here twice, that sets the standards really high for next year.” Forest Lake (22-8) will move on to the CIF Northern California playoffs with a road game on Tuesday. The Falcons would love to get another shot at Bradshaw in the NorCal Final. “I think if we play them again, we’ll be ready,” Ritchart said.