“As of now I’m very pleased with where we’re at. The effort in practice, film and the weight room is all there so I’m pretty satisfied,” said head coach Jon-Michael Nickerson.
The basketball program at Excel Christian has never seen a season such as this. Nickerson said “it means a lot to the guys” and it has changed the mood and spirit in the school as well.
“These guys knew they had a chance since the season ended last year to do something special. They talked about it all the time during the spring, summer and fall, and now it’s here and it’s time to see what we’re made of,” Nickerson said.
Nickerson, while proud of his team, said there were some moments when his team got into an “offensive rut,” but they were able to recover, most notably in the 72-48 victory against Trion Jan. 15.
The reason for such success, Nickerson said, is the defense and rebounding as they get all their momentum from how they’re playing defense.
“They know defense is the one thing in basketball that should be constant. You can’t control if the ball goes in on your shot, but you can control if you’re rotating and communicating the right way on defense,” said Nickerson.
Nickerson said his best defensive efforts come from three seniors — 5-foot-8 small forward Chaz Phillips, 6-foot-1 shooting guard Ashton Roach and 6-foot-4 small forward Elijah Robinson.
“They all bring different things defensively to the table to make us at our best,” Nickerson said.
With 12 of their last 13 scheduled games being in the region, Nickerson said his team took advantage of playing all the higher classified teams in the first half of the season and built up their confidence.
“We knew from the summer what we were capable of. We just went into the first game with that momentum and we don’t plan on looking back…They seemed ready and poised to try and do something that’ll leave their legacy forever here at Excel,” said Nickerson.