Young Santa Fe Christian team growing up fast

Basketball coaches around the Coastal League call Santa Fe Christian’s tiny gym “The House of Horrors.”

Tuesday night it proved to be a nightmare for Francis Parker.

Trailing by 15 late in the second quarter, Santa Fe Christian came all the way back, edging league rival Parker 50-46.

“Down 15, that’s some adversity,” said SFC coach Chad Bickley. “Parker is a great defensive team, and we weren’t making shots. We were having trouble getting shots.

“At the end of the day, defense won this game.”

The Eagles (14-4, 2-0), ranked No. 7 in the county and No. 52 in the state, forced 20 Parker turnovers.

“We were down 15 and were playing Parker’s game,” said SFC sophomore Keatten Smith, who led all scorers with 19 points. “We like to play fast. So we had to pick up the pace.”

The Eagles trailed 30-16 at the half, but held No. 5-ranked Parker (11-4, 0-1) to 16 second-half points while scoring 34.

Smith was a huge part of the second-half surge, scoring 14 of his 19, including two 3-pointers, in the fourth quarter.

“I didn’t shoot well last game (a stunning win over then No. 2-ranked Foothills Christian),” Smith said. “But my team has my back, so I had to step up.”

Parker led 38-30 with 30 seconds to play in the third quarter when point guard Kimo Ferrari was whistled for a technical, his fifth foul.

With Ferrari out, SFC went on a 10-3 run to take a lead with 5:11 to play.

The Eagles pushed the advantage to five at 49-44 with 2:15 to play on a Smith 3-pointer. Then Alex Yphantides and Chase Pagon had crucial rebounds before Pagon sealed the win with a free throw with 9 seconds to play.

Max Guinn led Parker with 15 points, plus he had nine rebounds and blocked a pair of shots. Matt Bender scored 12 and had 13 rebounds for the Lancers.

Pagon and Trevan Martin each had seven rebounds for SFC.

With four teams ranked in the Top 10 in the county — SFC, Parker, Foothills and La Jolla Country Day — and five teams (adding Bishop’s) with at least 10 wins, there are no easy nights in the Coastal League.

“But my guys are learning how to win,” Bickley said. “We lost all five starters from last year’s team.”

The Eagles have three seniors, six juniors, four sophomores and a freshman on the roster.

“We’re so young,” Bickley said.

So far, youth is being served.

by John Maffei