Canaan Christian Academy girls hoops team cops crown

Canaan Christian Academy's girls varsity basketball team put the finishing touches on yet another brilliant season this past weekend.

The Lady Eagles reeled of three straight wins at the NPCA tournament, the third of which came against previously unbeaten Valley Heights in the championship game.

Faith Swingle turned in one more dominating performance to lead the way. The junior power forward erupted for 20 points in the semis and 28 in the finals en route to the Most Valuable Player award.

"This was an amazing effort by Faith," Coach John Ashley said. "She battled through a foot injury that left her in tears at times, but she refused to be denied.

"That being said, the reason we did so well and the story of our tournament starts and ends with the way the whole team played defense and the way these girls took care of each other."

With the Lady Eagles' last three wins, they closed out the 2015-16 campaign with an overall record of 17-4.

"I'm so proud of all the girls accomplished this year," Coach Ashley said. "Each one of them gave us 100 percent. They accepted their roles and put team above everything else."

Quarters

Canaan tipped-off its gold medal quest with a first round battle against Bloomsburg.

This contest was played Thursday morning at the brand new Beacon Family Center in Calkins.

"We hoped to start Faith, get out to a lead, then sit her down the rest of the game," Coach Ashley said.

It was a strategy worked to perfection. The Lady Eagles used a suffocating full court press that Bloomsburg's guards simply couldn't handle. They held the Knights to single digit scoring in every period, forced 21 turnovers and cruised to a 33-14 victory.

Swingle tallied just four points and was able to rest her foot for most of the game. And, several teammates stepped up admirably in her absence.

Emily Fry notched a double-double with a team-high 11 points and 11 rebounds. Emily Hughes and Brianna Patterson each tallied six points. Alyssa Patterson contributed two points and six steals, while Paige Hazen added five rebounds.

Casey Skelton (two pts) and Hannah Chapman (one pt) rounded out the CCA scoring. Emily Ballard earned high marks for her play at the point, while Shannin Soulsby hauled down six boards.

Semis

With this win, Canaan earned a showdown with Cortland in the semifinals.

The Saints were defending NPCA champions and fresh off their own decisive win in the first round. But, as it turned out, the key to this one was all the rest Swingle received in opener.

Faith came out with both guns blazing, rattling the rims for a game-high 20 points. She also pulled down eight rebounds, snagged six steals and blocked four shots.

With Swingle leading the way, CCA rolled to a 27-16 win that paved the way to an appearance in the championship game.

"Faith was raring to go," Coach Ashley said. "She still struggled with her foot, but she kept getting to the rim for lay-ups and drawing fouls."

Canaan's once again employed a withering defense in limiting a high-octane Cortland attack to just 16 total points.

Alyssa Patterson dominated the glass, recording a game-high 12 rebounds. Fry added six boards and tallied four points, while Chapman chipped in with a free throw.

Finals

This year's NPCA title tilt took place on Canaan's home court before a big, enthusiastic crowd.

Valley Heights came in undefeated, thanks in large part to three elite players. Erica Capwell had just recently been named her league's MVP, while Lisa Miedema and Bethany Conover earned all-league nods.

"This game proved to me that offense wins games, but defense wins championships," Coach Ashley said. "Our girls played wicked team defese. We held all three teams in this tournament to under 20 points and that's remarkable."

Valley Heights lived up to its reputation early on. The Crusaders led by one after the first quarter and two at intermission.

Canaan broke things open in the second half, though. The Lady Eagles dominated the third period with a 10-0 run, then used that suffocating defense to close things out.

Brianna Patterson, Alyssa Patterson and Hazen made life miserable for the Crusader stars ... and Swingle dominated at the offensive end.

Faith turned in a monster performance. She erupted for 28 points, single handedly outscoring the entire Valley Heights squad. Swingle also found time to notch 10 rebounds, seven steals and three blocks.

Fry grabbed nine boards and Hazen added eight. Chapman chimed in with two points.

Swingle was named the tournament's MVP. She finished with 52 points and 20 rebounds in just a little over two games.

Fry, who played well at both ends of the floor, earned an All-Tourney berth.

Score by Quarters...

CCA (17-4) 5 9 10 8 - 32

VHC (19-1) 6 10 0 3 - 19