Athlete of the Week: Henry lifts tiny Saints to big-time

For the last three years, Kendall Henry was the best basketball player on the Grand Strand that no one has seen.

This season, in his senior year at Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach, he may be the best player on the Grand Strand – period.

Not only because the 6-foot-4 swingman has led the Saints to a 7-0 start by averaging a double-double (20 points and 10 rebounds per game). But also because more people are starting to take notice of the small SCISA Class A program that is seeking its fourth state championship in six years.

“When I was in the eighth grade I got to watch my older brother P.C. and that team win the state championship,” said Henry, who was voted the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week. “Now it’s kind of expected, especially since we probably have the most talent 1 through 5 in the history of the school.

“But it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t play together as a team. From the start of the season we talked about where we want to be in February, but we know to get there we have to play as a team and take one game at a time.”

Particularly their upcoming stretch of games against local public schools, beginning Tuesday night at Socastee. The tiny private school scored its first win over a public school two years ago against Carvers Bay and swept Green Sea Floyds last season, but the Saints know they need to beat some top Grand Strand teams to be taken seriously.

“State championships are great, but that’s what we have to do to get any street cred, or whatever you want to call it, in the community,” Henry said. “It would be a big statement to beat a big local public school with 850 kids to choose from while we’re just trying to find enough bodies to play.

“That means a lot to us because everybody on our roster is playing not to be cool or anything but because they want to help their school. I remember my brother having to convince guys to play, two of them hadn’t played beyond the YMCA level. That made (the state championship) even more special.”

The Saints have assembled a team capable of being competitive with local public schools this season, Henry’s final shot to prove he and his team can hang with anyone in the area. CAMB will get the chance to play on the Strand’s biggest stage – the Dec. 26-31 Beach Ball Classic – as part of an exhibition. Even more people will get that chance next month when CAMB opens its new school and gym, a vast improvement over the First Baptist Church floor and Myrtle Beach Middle School loaner the Saints have had to play on.

“(FBC and MBMS) have been so good to us to let us play there, but it’s going to be so exciting to have a place to call our own,” said Henry. “I also love playing at the Convention Center with all the fans in the stands. It was great last year to show people we’re not a pushover team. We’re here for business.”

Of course, the Saints are in the business of winning state titles – Henry’s ultimate goal in his senior year – but he has future goals in the sport. The straight-A student is pursuing a college basketball scholarship so he can take his game to the next level, but not at the expense of his education or faith.

“Newberry College and a few other schools have expressed interest and I’m still trying to put my name out there and see what happens,” Henry said “But I know there’s a plan and it will all work out for the best. I very much want to play college basketball but I’m not going to compromise my education or my faith.”

And if things keep going well for the best player on the Grand Strand, he may get all three.

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