Success is always sweeter when it comes after overcoming adversity. The Grapevine Faith boys basketball team knows this is true. The Lions have played under three head coaches in four years and suffered the recent loss of senior Carter Bras, out with a season-ending injury. Despite the challenges, Faith has started the year with a 19-9 record and is entered this week undefeated in district play.
“All of the guys have worked really hard this year,” said head coach Matt Sayman. “They play very well as a group and do everything they have been asked to do. It’s impressive for young people to do that.”
Sayman watched his team last spring, shortly after moving from his assistant coaching position in McKinney to his current role.
“I saw then that they had some really good pieces for the way I like to coach, but I never anticipated how well they would latch on to the system and play the game,” he said. “I also never thought we would have three guys make well over 100 three-pointers. Every game they are getting better.”
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The Lions have a week off before heading into a tough three-game stretch, including a road trip to Lubbock Trinity Christian and Midland Christian. Both Lubbock and Midland are tied for second place in district, behind Faith.
“Every game in district play is important. We have our West Texas trip coming up, where we will face some great teams with great coaches. They play hard and it will be a real test for us,” Sayman said.
The Lions are still playing it one game at a time.
“We are only worried about Tuesday for now. They (Grace Prep) played well last game and we play them at home so we’re excited about it,” Sayman said. “The moment you start looking past games is when you get in trouble.”
Losing Bras has been tough.
“Carter has been averaging 15 points per game so losing him has affected the game in so many ways,” Sayman said. “He had a great foundation and has handled this really well. He has showed me how he will handle tough situations as an adult.”
The team has rallied around Bras and helped fill the void.
“We have several players that have done a great job leading the way and being a great example to our younger players,” Sayman said. “Zach Postema and Kyle Carter have been shooting the ball really well the last few games, and Dalton Standish has been so solid.”
Paving the way for the teams’ offense are Tyler Dixon, Jared Jones and Brett Ford.
“I call them the three-headed monster,” Sayman said. “They guard the other team’s best scorer ... they run as hard as they can to tire him out, and open things up for us to score.”
And score they have, averaging over 81 points per game this season, including several 100-plus point games.
“Our goal isn’t to score over 100 points, it’s to force our tempo and style of play and get the best shot as fast as possible,” Sayman said. “A byproduct of that is that we score a lot of points.”
Sayman has recently implemented a program called JMODI, or Just a Matter Of Doing It.
“Twice a week from 6-7 a.m. we have an open gym, and we had 20 kids from fifth to twelfth grades here this morning,” he said. “It is incredible the integrity and buy-in from them and their parents.”
It’s paying off.
“They are a fun group and it is fun to see them be unselfish,” Sayman said. “They really are outstanding Christian leaders that will be going out into the world soon. It is special to me to get to be a part of it.”