Thursday, November 21, 2013
It’s hard to call the 2013-2014 season a rebuilding year for the St. John’s Christian Academy Cavaliers.
The Cavs have size, speed and are wicked from beyond the arc, but as is the nature of the beast with small schools, they have to replace several key cogs from a 2012-2013 team that finished with a 24-7 overall record and 11-1 region mark.
Gone are Bobby Winters, Evan Hammond, Joe Denton, Britt Pipkin, Mike Lewis and Daniel Glover.
Two key pieces of last year’s starting five will return, though, in wingmen Damian Hurta and Jalen Ward. All they need is someone to give them the ball.
“We expect to be relevant in the race for our region championship and state tournament,” said Coach Bob Winters. “We have good size as you can see by the roster.”
Add to Hurta and Ward, 6’5” post man Greg Gamble in the middle, and point guard Robby O’Dell to bring the ball up court, and the Cavaliers should win some games this winter.
“A lot will depend on point guard Robby O’Dell’s ability to handle pressure and run our offense,” Winters said. “We will be an up tempo team and will depend on returning starters, Greg Gamble(6’5”) Damian Hurta (6’ 3”) Jalen Ward (6’ 3”) as well as newcomer to the varsity Dustin Parsons (6’ 4”) to rebound, block shots and provide a scoring punch, too.”
SJCA opens the season on Nov. 22 against the Lowcountry Christian Wildcats. The Cavaliers will play 10 games prior to Christmas break, most notably squaring off against defending state champion Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach, the team that defeated SJCA 70-50 in the SCISA Class A semi-finals last season.
A tough pre-region schedule will include competing in the Carver’s Bay Pre-Season Jamboree on Nov. 14, tipping off against SCHSL’s Region 7AA powerhouse Andrews.
“Our region will be competitive this year with three teams in the region generally regarded to be in at least the top five in SCISA Class A basketball,” Winters said.
Those teams include the Cavaliers, Faith Christian, and defending state champion Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach.
“We are all in the mix for the region title, with Cathedral Academy and James Island Christian looking to be improved, too,” Winters said. “Faith Christian and Christian Academy both lost their big men to graduation so we will have a size advantage. Faith and Christian both feature strong guard play and we have the size advantage. Basketball is supposed to be a big man’s game; we will see.”
Assisting Winters on the bench this year are Robby O’Dell Sr. and Terrell Allen.
“Terrell is new to the staff and coached his AAU team to the national finals game only to lose in overtime last summer,” Winters said.
The Cavs roster includes Hurta, Ward, O’Dell, Parsons, Gamble, Colin Murchison, Byron Rodgers, Conner Thornton, Luke Hutto and Harun Scott.