Southeastern Christian Academy begins a new varsity boys’ basketball season tonight when the Warriors travel to Longs, S.C. to play the North Myrtle Beach Christian Stallions.
It’s the start of the second season for SCA under head coach Tommy Johnson and assistant Mike Absher, who added 12 wins last year to their combined record of more than 800 career victories.
Johnson joined SCA as the boys’ basketball head coach in May 2021. He has more than 500 victories in a career that included coaching North Wilkes, Wilkes Central, Perquimans High Schools as well as taking Canton Pisgah to the state championship game in 2008.
Absher, Davie High School’s boys’ basketball coach and athletic director who left the school with 347 career wins, joined SCA last summer.
This year Johnson and Absher will also have assistant coaches Armel Tate, Gregg Spradlin and Roman Love to help with the Warriors program, which also includes the JV squad.
The SCA varsity will also be a young group as there are only two seniors on the 2022 Warriors, point guard Jon Ivey and Matthew Fullford.
Juniors make up a large part of the team with Joshua Matthews, Gabriel Anderson, Nic Eller and Collin Zund playing.
The Warriors’ lineup also includes sophomore Kolby Smith, freshmen Uzziah Marlow and Grady Price, and eighth grader Amazin Dixon.
“Only two seniors Matt Fulford and John Ivey. We’re pretty young in some areas. I do think overall we’ve got a good group who has bought into the culture and the mentality change that Coach Johnson has been trying to implement the last two seasons. It’s been a good offseason. We lost a few pieces but I do think that collectively as a group we have a chance to be pretty successful,” Absher said.
“It’s a good mixture of kids coming from our JV program. And Nick Eller came in from another private school. A great addition for us. He plays with a lot of energy. He plays very good defensively. We have an exchange student from Germany, Collin Zund. It’s good to have him as a part of it. Gabe Anderson played and started some last year, he’s a junior. Also junior Josh Matthews played a lot last year. Grady Price is back as a freshman along with Kolby Smith and Uzziah Marlow.
“Amazin Dixon, he’s an eighth grader. He was homeschooled. He’s a really good addition to the team as far as giving us some depth in the backcourt. We also have JV team with about 14 kids on JV. There are about 23 total kids in the program. That’s a good number.”
Johnson said this year’s team will be defensive-minded and will find its offense based on the defense.
“Really, were very young. If you looked at one through 10, there’s really not that much of a difference in the 10 we have up, which is good. To a lot of people that may look like, well, maybe that’s not the best scenario. But I think it is. We’re emphasizing, if you want to play you need to be able to show us on the defensive end. Simple as that,” Johnson said.
“We’ve been practicing, we still run 2-2-1 full court, and we’re doing that 80% of the time. And the kids are really looking better. It really is, every day, is looking better. They’re working hard. We’re running more probably than any team I know of. Everyday, we’re getting at it. If somebody comes to watch practice they would say, ‘My goodness, they run a lot.’ I’m real happy every day to go to practice. These kids, they’re giving us everything. I mean, is everything 100% right every time? No. They’re young. They’re going to learn. I’m telling you, every day it gets better.”
Johnson added that the team would take their step up once they begin the 14-game season, which will run through early February.
“Thursday we open up at North Myrtle Beach Christian at 5:30 p.m. Just the boys’ varsity team playing that day,” Absher said.
“Until we play next Thursday and see how the rotation goes and see who’s going to respond, they’re just really close right now. Put it this way, if we’re looking to see who’s going to be our leading scorer, it will probably be the person who has our leading steals and assists,” Johnson said.
“The offense will come out of the defense. We’ve got to. If we don’t, we’ll have a very hard time. We’ve got to get a lot of points off layups. We’ve got to get a lot of points off our steals. And we’ve got to get points off free throws. That’s three things everybody says you’ve got to do, but we have to do it. And we can’t turn the ball over. So that’s four things that we just can’t do. We’ve got to get our defense to be our offense.
“We’re young, basketball knowledge-wise. But we make it up through our effort. We really do. I’m excited about practice everyday. What we need is live games. Because this is a totally different team makeup from last year.”
“I can look at each individual and know where I should put them and where I shouldn’t put them. But you really don’t know until you see them live against somebody. When they get that pressure on them. When we’re running our offense and everything is looking good out there and all of a sudden you get ball pressure. That’s how you can grow. It’s just experience. We’ve got to get game experience. Once we get that and we start having some adversity during the game, how we react to that and come back. That’s when we’ll start growing,” Johnson said.
SCA will play their first home game at 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15, hosting the Coastal Christian Centurions at the Brunswick Community College Dinah E. Gore Fitness & Aquatics Center gym.