Amid challenges, Southern Christian begins inaugural basketball season

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By Wil Crews
sportscrews@opelikaobserver.com

Southern Christian Academy provides an opportunity for homeschooled children to play sports. This fall, they opened the book on the program’s athletic history with a successful football season. Now, despite facing numerous challenges that stem from the global pandemic, the Patriots begin their first-ever basketball season.

“I have high hopes for this season,” Southern Christian Athletic Director and Coach Jason Scott said. “I’m a basketball guy at heart.”

For the last month, Scott has been getting his middle school, junior varsity (girls and boys) and varsity boys teams ready to play. However, it hasn’t been the cut-and-dry process of practice, scrimmage and game. For the last two weeks, Southern Christian — with all four teams practicing together —  has been faced with almost unfathomable circumstances. The Patriots have been practicing without goals. 

“We’re doing some of the old Pistol Pete Maverick ball-handling drills,” Scott said, with a laugh. “We practice all together.”

At the beginning of the pre-season, the Patriots were practicing inside the gym at Union Grove Church in Beauregard. But when the pastor recently contracted COVID-19, the church shut down and so did Southern Christian’s indoor practices. Since then, the Patriots have been practicing in the parking lot of Providence Baptist Church in Opelika.

“The last two weeks I’ve had the team practicing outside,” Scott said. “It’s a lit parking lot . . . I’m going to drag some heaters out there to try and keep everybody’s hands warm.”

Southern Christian has undeniably started behind the curve, but Scott has been unwavering in his commitment to have his teams ready to play — focusing on the fundamentals and good team basketball. When the varsity boys played their first game on Tuesday night, they nearly pulled off an astonishing win. Facing the Grace Christian Crusaders from Columbus, Georgia, the Patriots  trailed by just one with two minutes left in the game. At the half, Southern Christian  was down 24-11. However, the Patriots owned the third quarter — outscoring Grace Christian 15-3 — and gave themselves a fair shot to win the game. In the end, two crucial Southern Christian turnovers led to easy Crusader baskets and the Patriots lost their season opener, 31-26. It was a truly valiant effort for a team that hadn’t even had a scrimmage to date. Pete Moore led the way with 11 points and seven steals. Luke Humes also had a solid opening act, adding 8 points.

“We haven’t had any scrimmages … so that was our scrimmage last night,” Scott said. “I was going into the game thinking it might be a really long night for us. But all in all, I’m super proud of them.”

The Patriots varsity boys have 15 more games on the schedule, but Scott said, “I’ve called all the way to the other side of Atlanta,” to try  to  find games for his girls  team, which has only eight games on the docket to date.

With a number of newcomers who have never even played basketball, Scott said he looks forward to the challenge ahead this season.

“I love coaching,” he said. “I love the chess match.”

He also said he looks forward to scheduling in-town rivalry games against Trinity Christian and The Oaks, although the Patriots will have to wait until next season at least for that to begin.

“We couldn’t work it out to get on the schedule together,” Scott said of this season. “I’m going to try and do that a whole lot earlier next year.”

Scott said he hopes to get back into a gym soon, but if not, he, his three assistant coaches and his teams will continue to prepare in the elements.

“We’ve had some real hurdles to overcome,” Scott said. “We’ve already got a lot of stories to tell from this first year.”

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