Heritage Christian celebrates basketball crowns
by Doug Gorman
When the Heritage Christian Crusaders basketball teams stepped on the floor at the beginning of the season, there was no way they could have envisioned the success that would come their way.
Like a Hollywood movie, Heritage played out its own version of 'Hoosiers,' winning not just one, but three Independent Christian Schools of Georgia and Alabama titles, as both varsity and girls junior varsity teams brought home championship trophies. Along the way, Lady Crusader freshman CeCe Carter was named the league's overall girls MVP.
On Friday, in a ceremony at the school, the players from all three teams gathered in the gym to celebrate a year's worth of accomplishments.
School principal Bill Parsons recognized each team for its success before three banners were raised to commemorate the championship season.
The Crusaders brought home the boys title with a 56-52 win against Covenant, while the girls varsity defeated Alleluia 54-17.
During the first half of the 2013-14 season, winning the state title was not on the minds of the boys team.
Heritage went into the Christmas break with a losing record, but turned things around in January and finished with an 18-9 record.
In the final contest against Covenant, the two teams exchanged several leads throughout the game before game MVP Drew Spiller used his 6-foot, 6-inch wingspan to take over the contest down the stretch.
Spiller finished the championship contest with a double double, scoring 23 points and collecting 18 rebounds.
'It was a big night for us,' head coach Bob Spiller said.
Defensively, Wyatt Martinez, who began his basketball career at Trinity, came up with some big plays to deny Covenant scoring chances.
Jared Slaughter helped the cause this season with plenty of scoring punch, averaging 10.6 points per game. Raven Nuega averaged 9 points.
Winning state titles is nothing new for the Lady Crusaders, who captured the third state crown in school history.
'We were really due,' said head coach Justin Stephens shortly after his team won this season's title.
There was no mystery between the Lady Crusaders and Alleluia in the championship since it was the third time the two basketball teams played during the season.
The Lady Crusaders lost the first meeting between the two schools, but corrected things with victories in the final two meetings.
'To win says a lot,' Stephens said. 'When you think we lost to them in the first game, and then beat them like we did, that is big.'
The girls were led by tournament MVP Chasity Scott, who scored 22 points in the final showdown.
Carter added 12 points in the championship.
It was clutch play from Carter throughout the season that earned her season MVP honors for the league.
All-State performer Heather Wallace added 10 points, while Susan Obi and Sarah Ruck also made the all-state team.The girls basketball program should be good for years to come as Sara Carter, Morgan Reese, Samantha Gagnon, Sarah Porat, Bonnie Steward, Sierra Carter, Lariel McCormick, Kendra Anderson, and Kimmie Prescott led the junior varsity to its title and will soon be on the varsity team.
This will be the Independent Christian Schools of Georgia and Alabama's last year of existence, so Heritage Christian is shopping around for a new league.
However, new athletic director Buddy Woolf and Parsons promise a new home will be found soon.
The two men share a vision that a strong athletic program is important to grow the reputation of the school.