STAMFORD -- In terms of motivational tools, revenge is one of the best.
The two FAA schools met Thursday for the first time since heavily-favored GFA was stunned by King in last season's FAA playoff opener. So, the revenge factor was obvious for the league-leading Dragons. The host Vikings, however, also had some serious incentive.
"We wanted to show that last year was not a fluke," said King guard Drew Sawyer after King's almost equally surprising 65-57 victory over the Dragons on Thursday. "The team really met the challenge."
Led by Sawyer's 33 points, King (8-4, 3-2 FAA) handed GFA (6-2, 3-1) its first league loss.
"Nobody goes undefeated in this league," GFA head coach Doug Scott said. "But the key was we couldn't make a shot. And that Sawyer, he's just brilliant."
Sawyer was brilliant last February, too, when he scored 31 points to fuel the seventh-seeded Vikings' upset of the No. 2 Dragons 64-62 in the FAA quarterfinals. GFA was 18-5 last season (11-3 FAA) while King was 8-15, 3-12. This season the teams are a bit closer in ability, but the result was still a surprise.
"GFA is awesome, the best team in the league, and sometimes talent can just take over," King head coach Greg Dobbs said. "But I knew my boys were ready. We really executed the game plan on defense."
Not many teams can do that against GFA, a team that features a prolific scorer in guard Hunter Eggers (22.3 points per game), as well as Rice University-bound forward Sean Obi (18 ppg, 15.3 rebounds). And then there is Pat Ryan (14 ppg), Zach Baines (seven rebounds per game) and point guard Matt Tate, who leads the FAA in assists and steals.
"You can't just hold down one player," Dobbs said.
Eggers had 17 points for GFA, while the 6-foot-8 Obi added 17 points to go with 24 rebounds. Ryan added 10 boards
"Obi is a beast," Scott said. "But we saw two great players out there tonight."
Indeed, there was no denying Sawyer.
"My dad always said that when you play a real tough team you have to show them who you are," Sawyer said.
Connor Harris added 16 points for King and Guilbert Francois (nine rebounds, four blocks) did a good job against Obi, adding two big hoops with King nursing a six-point lead in the final three minutes.
King took an 11-2 lead as GFA missed 15 of its first 16 field goal attempts. And after the Dragons tied it at 11, the Vikings went up 14 before settling for a 31-20 halftime lead.
In the second half, GFA got within one point. But led by Sawyer and Francois, the Vikings showed they had more to prove on Thursday.
GFA was 24 for 78 from the field while King made 23 of 53 shots. GFA, which out-rebounded the Vikings 48-27, had 18 turnovers and forced 15.
Emery Filmer is a freelance writer
KING 65, GREENS FARMS 57
GFA (6-1, 3-1 FAA)
Matt Tate 2 2-2 8; Hunter Eggers 8 0-0 17; Pat Ryan 3 1-1 7; Zach Baines 0 0-0 0; Sean Obi 8 1-4 17; Andrew Chase 3 0-0 8; Brendan Bieder 0 0-0 0; Van Barnet 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24-78 4-7 57
KING (8-4, 3-2 FAA)
GREENS FARMS 20 37--57
KING 31 34--65
3-pointers: GFA--Tate 2, Chase 2, Eggers; K--Harris 3.