Nautica Peden’s first field goal of the season couldn’t have been easier to make. After coming up with a game-changing steal, all that stood between her and the basket were her emotions.
“I thought I wasn’t going to make the shot,” Peden said. “I was panicking.”
Peden tossed the ball toward the center of the backboard, watched it go into the net and sealed a 29-27 win over Midland Middle School.
With seconds remaining in overtime and Faith leading 26-25, Peden made an improbable steal as the Midland players had already run up the court to set up the last shot of the game. As a Midland player tried to fight off a man press, Peden came from the player’s blindside and made the steal. There was no one within 20 feet of her.
“It was like she had a second sense and she knew to go ahead and steal that ball,” Faith coach Mikki Raines said.
Faith improved to 3-0 after the thrilling win, overcoming turnovers, missed free throws and even a basket scored at the wrong end of the floor.
Faith had a difficult time adjusting early in the second half as Midland came out with aggressive defense, swarming to the ball and creating turnovers.
“(I told them) just to calm down and take their time,” Raines said. “I was telling them that we were just as good as they are. We didn’t have to rush stuff. A couple of times we were rushing the ball and making turnovers. I told them to just relax.”
The game turned into a tight battle until the end of regulation, though Faith could have won the game with a better output at the foul line.
“We were missing far too many free throws and the game could have been over,” Raines said. “We could have not even had overtime, but we got it when it counted.”
Chyna Thomas led Faith with nine points.
Though the Faith boys led Midland 28-25 at halftime, Faith came out flat in the second half and struggled to defend the transition game, losing 69-47.
Offensively, Faith found few second-chance opportunities and failed to get back on defense, allowing Midland to score easy layups. Midland outscored Faith 21-6 in the third quarter.“I think we got into a transition game with them that we shouldn’t have gotten into,” coach Karl Ivey said. “We should have slowed down a little bit.”
Faith got out to a big lead early, up 21-8 at one point in the first quarter. Midland did not panic ,though, narrowing the deficit to three by halftime. Faith could not find the same fire it played with in the first half.
“We should have played more up-tempo,” Ivey said. “I think they were just a little bit tougher than we were tonight.”
Friday marked the first loss for Faith (2-1) and it comes in the second game of the team’s new schedule against tougher competition in the Muscogee County School District. Faith won its first game on the road against Marshall Middle School.
“They got a taste of both ends,” Ivey said. “They learned how to win, now they know how to lose. I asked them at the end of the game which feeling they like the most.