Final four run raises expectations

Published 3:52 pm Friday, February 23, 2018

Chilton Christian Academy recently made a return trip to the ACEA Final Four in boys basketball for the first time in 11 years.

The Patriots lost 52-37 to New Life Christian in the final four at the Oxford Civic Center on Feb. 16, but what a ride it was for a group of players that had never even been to a quarterfinal to this point in their high school careers.

“It was a big accomplishment for these boys, because they had never been before,” CCA head coach Thomas Lyon said. “You could tell that the nerves set in a little bit.”

CCA was a very young team this season with only one senior and two juniors on the roster.

However, as the season went on the team gelled together and understood the roles that each had to play if they were serious about advancing in the postseason.

“I was very pleased with the way the team was playing at the end of the year,” Lyon said.

What was meant as a year full of growing pains quickly turned into a run of victories and a sense of expectation that had not been seen around the program for a while.

Thomas Gay provided much-needed scoring throughout the season, and he did not shy away from the big stage with 35 points in the quarterfinal and added 18 more in the final four matchup.

Thomas Gay of CCA drives to the basket against New Life Christian in the final four on Feb. 16. (Contributed photo)

“He’s upped his scoring and has shown an ability to know who to get the ball to,” Lyon said.

According to Lyon, Carter Johnson is regarded as the best defender for CCA all season, while Liam Higgins is the engine for the whole with his energy that helps keep everybody in line.

“We’ve got a good combination with the guys that we have,” Lyon said.

The Patriots punched their ticket to the state semifinals following a 79-64 defeat of Providence Classical in the quarterfinals.

Now that CCA has tasted the final four, the obvious question is what lies ahead in the Patriots’ future?

“I know this was a growing year, but we hit all the goals that we had,” Lyon said. “It’s been a good thing to see them progress forward. We’re excited about what’s going to happen next year.”