The Valdosta Daily Times
Georgia Christian’s basketball teams are playing some of their best basketball in recent memory.
The Generals are currently 12-5, and are ranked No. 3 in GISA Class A. The Lady Generals have a 9-6 record, and are ranked No. 4 in GISA Class A.
The Georgia Christian boys currently share the lead in Region 3-A with Fullington Academy.
“Right now, our boys are playing very well,” Georgia Christian head coach Kent Copeland said. “The boys are scoring in the upwards of 65 points a game, 70 points a game, so we’re putting points on the board. ... Overall, we’ve had a very successful year (so far). I feel like we’re peaking at the right time. Attitudes are great, grades are great. Things seem to be working towards a (state championship game) appearance. That is our goal.”
C.J. Lynch is having a big year for the Generals. Copeland estimated the 6-foot-4 senior center is averaging 25 points, 12-14 rebounds and 3-4 blocks per game. He missed some time in December with a hairline fracture, but is healthy again.
“C.J. is our leading scorer, and I would say (he is) the best region player right now,” Copeland said. “Everything runs through C.J. He had 33 the other night in our win against Grace. ... We are pleasantly surprised with his athleticism, and his leadership on the floor.”
Sophomore guard Jeremiah Beverly is averaging around 14 points per game. Copeland moved Beverly to point guard this year, and has been pleased with his play.
“Moving Jeremiah Beverly from the two guard to the point guard has opened up some avenues for other people,” Copeland said.
While Lynch and Beverly have scored a large portion of the points, Georgia Christian is also getting solid play out of a number of other players.
“Quinton Carter and Christian Moore have really stepped up on the inside, and make our big men kind of solid in the paint,” Copeland said. “My other guard is Zac Bunion, and his strength is taking the ball to the hole, drawing a crowd and dishing it to a shooter. He has played very well the last couple of nights. I think we may be clicking at the right time.”
“We have an older group of seniors, and we have a very strong sophomore and freshman class,” Copeland added. “We are being able to play our freshmen and sophomores a lot now. The coaches and I have gone to a rotation where there are two guys backing up our three big guys and two guards backing up our two (starting) guards. ... We’ve created some competition amongst them, and it’s paying off for us.”
The Georgia Christian girls are 9-6, but two of those losses came to two-time defending state champion Crisp Academy and three of the other losses came against bigger schools. They are in second place in Region 3-A, with their only region losses coming against Crisp.
“Great girls season so far,” Copeland said. “I think our girls are understanding now what it takes to win. The other night, we were down two at Grace with four seconds (left). I asked them in the huddle, ‘Do you want to play for the tie or play for the win in this hostile environment?’ (The girls said) ‘Let’s play for the win.’ We shot a three, Morgan Sykes nailed it and we walked out of there with a win. Our girls found a way to win, and that’s how you build winning (teams).”
“The stars are lining up for the girls. We’ve just got to believe we can do it,” he added. “And I think we can.”
One player who has made a difference for GCS is center Lindsey Levings. The 6-foot-3 Levings transferred to Georgia Christian in December, and made an instant impact. She has been sick lately, but when she has been healthy, she has played well, averaging around 14 points per game.
“She’s given us some defense that we didn’t have in the paint. Of course she’s given us offense,” Copeland said. “Our biggest challenge is that we are having to work her in to what we do. She’s coming from another program, and (we are) trying to mesh each other together. ... When that comes together, Lindsey’s a huge asset.”
This year, Haley Garrett became Georgia Christian’s starting point guard, and the talented freshman has thrived in that role. She is averaging around 10 points a game.
“I think our team right now is being led by Haley Garrett,” Copeland said. “Give her three more years of maturity and strength and growth, there will be a lot of people impressed with her.”
Garrett and Levings are the Lady Generals’ leading scorers. But they have a lot of help from some of the other players.
“Morgan Sykes is playing much better. Erin Copeland and Erin Redshaw are both stepping up and giving us 6-8 points a game, and that’s huge,” Coach Copeland said.
Copeland believes that this year’s girls team could be the best one Georgia Christian has had since the 2002-03 team, which made it to the state semifinals. Copeland would love to see this year’s team make it to the semifinals.
“Our goal in the girls is to get to the final four,” he said. “We can feel good (about our chances). We have one of the better teams that we’ve had here in a long time.”
The Lady Generals only have two seniors, both of them reserves, and Copeland says they have a strong eighth grade class about to move up.
“The future looks bright, real bright, for the girls,” their coach said. “I think our program is going in the right direction.”
Georgia Christian will host Highland Christian tonight in Dasher, with the game set to begin at 6:30 p.m.
GCS will host the boys’ and girls’ region tournaments Feb. 12-15.