The ‘pop’ was audible. The reaction was instant. The knowledge was dreadful. New Covenant Cavaliers Varsity Boys coach Patrick Miller had just ruptured his Achilles tendon in a mid-season December practice. “Unfortunately I did the same thing to my other Achilles about 8 years ago, so immediately I knew what had happened,” commented Coach Miller recently. What had also immediately happened was that the Cavalier boys team was dealing with its first major obstacle of the season, and arguably the biggest obstacle it has faced since its inception three years ago. “The injury was hard to deal with. My lack of mobility. The pain and discomfort,” said Coach Miller. He continued, “What was really scary was that I developed blood clots that could have been life threatening.” The result was that Coach Miller had to take a leave of absence from the team for about two weeks.
“When Coach was out, we were really struggling to find who we were as a team,” said Senior Captain Stuart Marshburn. “We had to play some really tough games without him.”
However, overcoming obstacles became the theme of the season for the Cavalier boys, so it was no surprise to anyone that when they were down 14-2 early against Foothills Christian School in the South Carolina Association of Christian School (SCACS) 1A State Championship game they did not panic. They did what their coach had taught them to do. They fought and clawed their way back into the game and ultimately came out on top to secure their second straight SCACS 1A State Championship.
Here is what Senior Grayson Hardy had to say. “One of the games we played without Coach was actually against Foothills and in that game we got down 12-0. We fought back, but ultimately lost. We learned a lot about ourselves, so with Coach there, we knew we could do it.”
To even have a chance against Foothills, New Covenant first had to defeat the overall number 1 seed in the State Tournament, Carolina Christian School, in a semifinal match up. Stuart Marshburn led the Cavaliers with 32 points and Freshman Miles Miller came off the bench to score 17 points. Grayson Hardy and Senior Whitner Cann were outstanding in their defending of Carolina’s top two scorers. That victory set up a rematch of last year’s State Championship game.
The offensive game plan for Foothills, which ultimately proved effective, was different from any other game this season. The plan for the final game was to attack the rim through the low post with players such as Senior James Curnow and Junior Houston Funk, or off of the dribble drive by Marshburn and others. The hope was to get some easy points at the rim or to get Foothills in foul trouble. By the third quarter Foothills had two starters in foul trouble thus momentum and pressure had shifted from the Cavs being down early and climbing back, to Foothills pressing knowing their lead and ability to hold it was crumbling. Thus when two Foothills players fouled out in the 4th quarter the game began to completely move in New Covenant’s favor. The team sensed victory and was able to seize it. Leading the way were James Curnow with 10 points and Stuart Marshburn with 12 points. They both did the hard work of pounding the ball into the lane and finishing at the hole for three quarters. After a shaky start defensively, Whitner Cann and Sophomore Gabe Miller really harassed and shut down Foothills two main scorers in the second half. Junior Alyosha Truman (9 points), Gabe Miller (7 points) and Houston Funk (4 points) made huge plays offensively and defensively in the final 3 minutes to swing the game in New Covenant’s favor for the first time where it remained until the buzzer.
In a season filled with obstacles, the result was another State Championship for the Cavalier boys. “Last year, going undefeated and winning our first State Championship was special. This year with our struggles at times made winning state very satisfying. And of course going back to back is really sweet,” remarked Coach Miller.
Congratulations to the New Covenant School boys basketball team for winning their second straight State Championship!