Faith Lutheran lose close game to Universal

ELGIN – After falling behind by 16 points after one quarter Monday night, it appeared Faith Lutheran’s boys basketball team was going to see its season end in lopsided fashion at the Class 1A Harvest Christian Regional.

The fourth-seeded Saints would rally back and pull within one but couldn’t tie the score or take the lead in a 62-59 loss to fifth-seeded Bridgeview Universal. Universal moves on to play top-seeded Westminster Christian on Wednesday night.

Faith coach Mike Clauss was pleased with his team’s comeback after trailing by so much in the early going.

“That was really nice,” Clauss said. “We played really good defense, hit our shots and rebounding is what really did it for us.”

Faith Lutheran (5-15) struggled to stop Ismail Jarad, who made six 3-pointers, including a 25-footer to end the first quarter to give the Stars a 26-10 lead. Jarad finished with 20 points to lead Universal.

The Saints wouldn’t give up, however, and slowly began to rally back, cutting the Universal lead to six in the second quarter but trailed 39-27 at the half. The second half started much better for Faith Lutheran with an 11-2 run to cut the Universal lead to 41-38.

Every time the Saints would rally, however, Jarad would hit another 3-pointer. After he hit two more 3s, Universal was ahead by nine again. The fourth quarter finally saw Faith make a true run at the lead. The Saints cut the deficit to 55-52 with six minutes to play and pulled within two with two minutes to go.

With the Saints losing by four a minute later, Jake Larson converted a three-point play to pull Faith within 60-59 with a minute to go.

After two Universal free throws in the last minute, the Saints had a chance to tie, but Larson’s long 3-pointer at the buzzer rattled off the rim. Larson finished with 23 points to lead the Saints, while Ben Boyer added 19.

Clauss saidt there are a lot of things that will make next season a bit harder than this year with the graduations of Larson, Boyer and Andrew Tieman, but there are plans to take the program to the next level.

“We've got our work cut out for us for sure,” Clauss said. “We are going to try to start some summer camps and move forward from here. We’re losing three players, so that’s going to be hard for us. We've got a lot of ground to cover.”