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Forest Lake returning to Arco

Ritchart pours in 41 as Falcons earn a shot at repeating as champs
By: Ray Hacke Journal Sports Writer
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GALT — He knocked down 3-pointers, capped fast breaks with thunderous dunks and scored easily off dribble-drive spin moves. For good measure, he went 5-for-5 at the foul line. Josh Ritchart scored practically at will for the Forest Lake Christian boys basketball team Tuesday night in a 54-46 victory over Sacramento Waldorf in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V semifinals at Galt High School. The victory put the Falcons (21-5) back in the Sac-Joaquin Section final for the second straight year. FLC, the defending Division V champion, will face top seed Bradshaw Christian Friday afternoon at Sacramento's Arco Arena. The Pride downed No. 4 Victory Christian 69-54 in Tuesday's nightcap. Forest Lake is guaranteed a spot in the Northern California regional tournament whether it wins on Friday or not. Ritchart, the Falcons’ 6-foot-7 center, scored 41 points and grabbed 14 rebounds on Tuesday, but that doesn’t begin to describe the junior’s dominance. Ritchart scored all 14 of FLC’s first-quarter points, putting the Falcons ahead for good when he hit the first of his two 3-pointers in the first quarter. “Once I started hitting those outside shots, that opened up the lane and I started driving,” Ritchart said. By halftime, Ritchart had scored 24 of Forest Lake ‘s 27 points. He also had more points than the entire Waldorf lineup before the Waves (23-6) scored a flurry of points in the final three minutes to keep the score respectable. Even then, Ritchart almost single-handedly kept Waldorf at bay with his scoring. He netted seven of FLC’s last eight points in the final 2:17 , including five of the last six after the Waves narrowed the score to 49-41 with 41.1 seconds to go. “Our team has good composure,” Ritchart said. “If we get rattled, we overcome that. We made some big shots down the stretch.” Falcons coach Dave Thomas called Ritchart’s performance “masterful.” “(Waldorf) held him to 13 points the last time they played him,” Thomas said. “We worked on offense on getting him high-percentage looks and getting his man one-on-one, because if he gets his man one-on-one he’s going to beat him. “We’ve got to get him the ball to succeed, and when he’s doing that, we’re going to feed him.” Senior guard Maxx Mamula was second on the Falcons in scoring with seven points, including one 3-pointer. Senior forward Matt Masterson and senior guard Johnny Umamoto had a number of hustle plays that didn’t show up in the stats, knocking the ball away from opposing players several times to start Forest Lake fast breaks and dishing out several assists. Defense played a big part in Tuesday’s win. FLC held Waldorf to eight points in each of the first two quarters before the Waves rallied to cut the Falcons’ lead to six points in the third quarter. “They had some unforced turnovers in the first half,” Thomas said of Waldorf. “Our defense made them work for the shots they did get.” It’s the Falcons’ defense that gives Ritchart confidence that Forest Lake will repeat as the section champion. “If we play defense like we can, it’s hard to score against us,” he said.