On paper, the basketball team to beat in the Private School Association League in 2016 was more than likely not the one from Wesleyan Christian Academy. After all, only two players on the team had ever played organized basketball before.
But this group of young and enthusiastic men interested in the sport, brought together under the umbrella of a school team by junior high teacher and basketball coach Nick Black, did not pay any attention to any preconceptions.
Instead of delivering what could have been a very respectable development year for the sport at the school, the team of newbies and not-so-newbies finished the year with a 16-0 record, winning not only the Private School Association League, but also the Blue Iguana tournament held March 18 and 19, and the Private School Association tournament on April 28 as well.
“They beat every team by at least 10 points and put together a really good season,” said their delighted coach, Mr. Black.
He attributes their success to impressive determination.
“The young men worked really hard,” he said, noting the school doesn’t have a gym for teams to practice. “They were out there, month after month, practicing outside in the hot sun at 3 p.m. right after school.”
Mr. Black, who is in his first year teaching at the school, said he began organizing the team well before the start of the season, which ran from January to April.
“I just invited all the students who wanted to play to come out to practice, and we did drills and so on,” he said, adding that the team was built from just two players at the outset, with more and more young men coming out as time went on and enthusiasm increased.
“We practiced for several months prior to the season,” he said.
The team’s players, who range in age from 13 to 18, were led by captain Malik Ebanks, and the team’s leading scorer was Cleven Bello. The leading rebounder was Daniel Britton.
“It was definitely impressive for the team to go undefeated without a close game at all,” said Mr. Black.
“The whole school got behind it; it was great, with rallies, photos, and just great support.”
He said he already has a lot of interest from students eager to play next year, with 20 to 30 students keen to come out and other younger prospects moving up in the coming years from the lower school.
Aside from the promise this successful season has for the school’s basketball program, Mr. Black is hoping that the momentum will be carried over into other aspects of the young men’s personal lives.
“Hopefully [being a part of this] will help in the future, to continue to encourage these young men get involved with an activity that builds character,” he said.