Experienced Saints take aim at another SCISA state title

Winning the SCISA Class A boys state basketball championship is more than a goal at the Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach; it’s the standard.

After winning three state crowns in its first five seasons of putting a team on the court, the Saints have grown accustomed to hoisting the big hardware at the end of the year. After failing to do so in 2011-12, it’s time to add to the trophy case.

With four returning starters and an impressive newcomer in the lineup, as well as a brand new home gym and school for the Saints, CAMB has a good chance to make a run at its fourth SCISA Class A state championship.

Coming off a 17-11 season that saw the Saints reach the state quarterfinals, CAMB brings back senior shooting guard Kendall Henry, who averaged 17.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists and steals per game last season.

Fellow senior and power forward Max Smith (7.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg) and juniors Austin Guyton (6.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.0 spg), Cole Gore (5.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.0 spg) and Garrett Richards (5.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg) give the Saints a veteran lineup.

“We have experienced players that have been together for several years now,” CAMB coach Darren Gore said. “We have an excellent shooting squad with good quickness to push the ball up the floor, and we’re a better defensive unit. They learned a lot about playing the game last season.”

As did newcomer Bernard Jones, who played point guard for the Mullins High varsity squad last year as an eighth-grader. The freshman looks to see significant playing time with the veterans and needs to gel quickly into a new up-tempo offense.

“We have a new offensive system,” said Gore. “We have lots of scorers on this team so we’re trying to give everyone adaquate minutes and opportunities.”

But scoring isn’t Gore’s main concern for the Saints. He believes if his team can come together, play solid defense and improve its offensive rebounding, his Saints can go a long way this season.

“If we can do a better job on the offensive glass this year and give ourselves second chance opportunities we can be a very good team,” Gore said. “We averaged 33.5 rebounds per game last season, but only 13 per game on the offensive end.

“We like to play man and press.  We need to stay disciplined and communicate better in order to take advantage of the type of players we have converting that pressure into easy baskets.”

Another major goal for the Saints this season is to make some noise by beating the public schools on their schedule. CAMB plays home-and-away games with Aynor, Green Sea Floyds, Socastee and Waccamaw, as well as a pair of exhibition games in the Beach Ball Classic at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

It’s one of many courts the Saints will play on the season, including two of their own. They will be playing at Myrtle Beach Middle School for home games in December before opening their new digs on Jan. 4 against Waccamaw.

The Saints play their first exhibition game on Saturday at noon before opening the season at Kings Academy on Nov. 13.

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