Fellowship Baptist wins 4th NCCSA title in home thriller
It would be difficult to imagine a more fitting end to Fellowship Baptist Academy’s 48-45 North Carolina Christian School Association state championship Saturday than the way it played out — with the ball in the hands of a dancing all-state senior guard Tim Dail on a home court surrounded by boisterous boosters.
Dail led all scorers with 19 points in the hair-breadth victory over Tabernacle Christian School of Monroe, which wasn’t decided until the last three seconds. The win was the fourth state title for Fellowship, which rolled up previous NCCSA 1-A championships in 2005 and 2006 and a 2-A title in 2009.
“We probably have the best coach in the state, and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” the 6-2 Dail said of Ken Finley, who has been Fellowship’s only coach since the program started 17 years ago.
“I wanted to win this so bad for our coach. I’ve known him since I was just a little kid, and I love him to death,” Dail said. “My teammates had an incredible day. They just carried us the whole season.”
“It’s a great way to end the season, especially for our senior season. It’s a life-changing experience,” said 6-2 forward Jacob Addison, one of three seniors on the team.
“You win tournaments throughout the whole season. We’ve been all the way from Tennessee to Indiana playing basketball tournaments and winning those,” Addison said. “But there’s something about states. It’s just different than everything else.”
“Jake Addison last night was unbelievable” in helping to defeat Asheboro’s Fayetteville Street Christian on Friday, Finley said. “He had 24 points and 10 rebounds, so he put us in this game.” He had eight points Saturday.
But winning the championship game against speedy and flashy Tabernacle didn’t come easy.
“They’re all about flying up and down the floor, 80 points a game. We can’t play with them. They have more athletes than we do,” Finley said in explaining the occasional extended freeze he put on the ball.
“If we kept it in the 40s I felt really good. That’s our style. “We don’t press, we don’t gamble. Force a bad shot, take a good shot,” and come out on top, he said. “The Lord’s allowed us to be very successful.”
Fellowship tied its biggest lead of five points at 4:19 of the fourth period when 5-11 junior forward Chris King hit on a nifty underhand layup to make it 41-36.
But as it had done all game, Tabernacle battled back to a 43-43 tie at 1:09 when all-state senior forward Colin Griffin muscled underneath and, with his back to the rim, tossed in a basket over his shoulder with little more than a glance backwards. Griffin tied it again, 45-45, when he hit a jumper with 43 seconds left.
Fellowship squandered numerous chances to score in the period, going just 5 of 14 from the free throw line. Dail missed a pair of free throws with 15 seconds left, but in the bigger picture, Griffin, Tabernacle’s leading scorer with 18 points, fouled out on the play.
With the score still knotted and 11 seconds left, Finley called a timeout.
“We were going to run an iso(lation play) for Tim,” said 6-foot senior guard Andrew Moolenaar, who scored 15 points.
“I wanted it to be on Tim,” Finley said. “But he gave it up to one of the other seniors.”
“They were double teaming him so he passed to me,” Moolenaar said. “I just went to the basket and let it fly. I remember seeing someone there, and the next thing I know it was in the basket. It’s all a blur right now.”
“It was like an out-of-body experience,” Dail said of watching his teammate’s jumper tickle the net with 3 seconds left in the game to make it 47-45.
Dail wasn’t interested in credit for the assist. Moolenaar “was the one who did all the work. He put it on the floor,” Dail said happily, and with just cause. “Me and him have been friends since daycare.”
Tabernacle had one last possession, and junior guard Jeremiah Jenkins was inbounding the pass, a long heave just past midcourt intended for sophomore guard Jared Griffin.
“I saw him go deep, and then he came back towards the ball,” Dail said. “I just stepped in the passing lane and got it,” causing him to dance across the floor with the intercepted ball as his teammates mobbed him and the Fellowship Fan-Addicts section went wild twirling their signature white towels in frenzied celebration.
Dail was fouled on the play and went 1 for 2 to close out the scoring.
NOTES — The Eagles wore black patches during the game with the initials MD — signifying Marc Dalton of Waterford, Mich., a friend of Finley and the Eagles program. “I would bring him in every summer to do our basketball camps. On Jan. 5 he had a massive heart attack and passed away,” Finley said. “He would have been here today. His family came in and surprised us. We really wanted to win it for him.” ... “He taught us pretty much everything we know,” Dail said, pointing to the MD patch on his shirt. ... Finley said he called this the Eagles’ Season of Adversity. “Brother Dalton passing away, a kid transfers, another kid decides not to play, a little chemistry issue early in the year,” and Dail out 10 games with a dislocated shoulder, he said. “I said let’s overcome adversity,” Finley said, “and these kids did.”
FELLOWSHIP BAPTIST 48, TABERNACLE CHRISTIAN 45
NCCSA Championship Game
Tabernacle Christian 14 13 8 10 — 45
Fellowship Baptist 16 14 9 9 — 48
TABERNACLE CHRISTIAN — Colin Griffin 18, Jeremiah Jenkins 8, Jordan Lee 7, Jared Griffin 6, Matthew Gooch 4, Timmy Jenkins 2.
FELLOWSHIP BAPTIST — Timothy Dail 19, Andrew Moolenaar 15, Jake Addison 8, Josh Bass 6.
3-point goals—FBA 3 (Addison, Bass, Moolenaar), TCS 4 (C. Griffin 5). Rebounds—FBA 28 (T. Dail 8), TCS 17 (Griffin 5). Assists—FBA 6 (T. Dail 3), TCS 0. Steals—FBA 3 (Philip Dail, Ben McKinney, Moolenaar), TCS 1 (C. Griffin). Turnovers—FBA 8 (Moolenaar 4), TCS 2 (Jenkins 2). FG—FBA 18-33, 54.5 percent; TCS 16-33, 48.4 percent. FT—FBA 9-14, 64.2 percent; TCS 9-12 75 percent.
Final records — Fellowship Baptist Academy 28-9, (Monroe) Tabernacle Christian School 25-4.