Historic basketball season continues for Faith Christian with OT win

ATTICA − For four quarters, Faith Christian’s girls basketball team had its season hanging in the balance but as overtime played out, an Eagles team lacking postseason experience stepped up when they needed to most.

Led by freshman Maya Layton, Faith Christian outscored Clinton Central by nine in OT and ran away with their first sectional victory in nine seasons with a 65-56 victory over the Bulldogs, setting up Friday's sectional semifinal game against Class A, Sectional 54 host Attica (6-14).

Snapping that postseason drought is just one of many accomplishments that have come along the way this year but from the standpoint of Faith Christian head coach D.J. Layton, this success has been a long time coming.

“It’s just been a long time in the making,” D.J. Layton said. “We’ve been on this road trying to get to this first step. I’ve been here six years, so from the moment we started, this is the step we wanted to make. These kids that came in, they came in with all this heart. Our seniors that graduated last year started the road for us and these girls are coming and picking up where they left off.”

Coming into the sectional, Faith Christian held a 19-3 record and played like a team with just three losses throughout their its round matchup with Clinton Central (16-7).

Trailing by one after the opening quarter, point guard Maya Layton slowly began to take over. Layton scored three of her game-high 30 points off of a jumper from distance to start the second quarter while converting on two more 3s on Faith's next two made field goals.

Layton came into Tuesday’s game averaging 20.7 points per game on 50 percent shooting, but the success she had in the sectional opener was attributed to those around her.

“My teammates had a lot to do with it," she said. "They helped with screens because one girl was face guarding me so we read that very well. I was going to go off the screens and hit the shots."

Layton wasn’t the only freshman guard filling up the stat sheet for Faith Christian either as Trinity Wilburn finished with 14 points including 12 in the second half.

D.J. Layton embraces daugter Maya Layton following Faith Christian's sectional win over Clinton Central.
D.J. Layton embraces daugter Maya Layton following Faith Christian's sectional win over Clinton Central.

Fellow freshman Caya Stillings chipped in with 13.

Going into the fourth, the Eagles looked to be in control with an eight-point lead but Clinton Central clawed back with jumpers by Carly Davison and Sam Adams on back-to-back possessions.

As the game sat tied at 49 all, the Bulldogs had a chance to complete their upset bid when they went to the free throw line with one second remaining but an unsuccessful attempt on a one-and-bonus gave Faith Christian new life.

With overtime came Layton stepping up in the biggest moment of her young high school career when she scored eight of the team’s 16 points in including their first five points off of a runner down the lane and a mid range jumper on the next possession.

For D.J. Layton, the ability to see her team step up in a do-or-die moment was all predicated on the Eagles being a player-led team.

“We tried to show them a couple different defenses and they just stepped up and knew what to do when we did that,” D.J. Layton said. “We had some breakdowns, but then they knew how to fix it. We’re getting to the point where we’re having a player-led team. … They know what’s going on the floor and that knowledge is just keen.”

While Maya Layton had plenty to celebrate postgame, the ability to be part of a team that is led by her mother made Tuesday’s win stand above the rest.

“It means a lot to play for my mom right beside her," Maya Layton said. "She’s been working really hard to get this program where it is right now, so I’m just glad we can work together as mother and daughter on the same team and get to where we are right now."

This article originally appeared on Lafayette Journal & Courier: Historic basketball season continues for Faith Christian with OT win