2019-02-13 / Front Page

EBA SPARTANS ARE REGION CHAMPIONS

DIANA ROYAL


Edmund Burke Academy’s boys basketball team is the 2019 Region 4-AA Champion. Edmund Burke Academy’s boys basketball team is the 2019 Region 4-AA Champion. What’s sweeter than the swoosh sound a basketball makes on a nothing but net shot? How about cutting down that net and bringing it home along with a region championship trophy?

Edmund Burke Academy’s Spartan basketball players can attest to all three, and they’ll tell you quickly just how good it feels to bring home a title that their school hasn’t held since 1987.

“As the final seconds were counting down, I thanked the Lord for giving us the opportunity to play in the region championship, and also for letting us perform well,” senior Jaylon Glisson said following the big win. “All of our hard work had paid off, and I was excited for our team and coach. It was awesome knowing that we had just won a region championship, something that has not happened in the EBA’s men’s basketball program in thirty-two years.”

While some fans weren’t sure if the boys would make it to the final game, following a tough 70-54 loss to Brentwood to close out regular season play, Tripp Parker said that loss was actually their spark plug. “After they beat us just before the tournament, we went in with a different attitude and everyone gave it all they had. The whole team left it all on the court that night.” The boys weren’t going to let Brentwood stand in their way of the title game, and they did the work to make sure they were prepared.

“We sat down and watched the film, saw the mistakes that we made against them,” said head coach Evan Butcher, adding that the Spartans had kind of beaten themselves on that last night before the tournament. “We looked at what we could do to stop them. The boys knew what was coming, and they held each other accountable.”

They came out in the semifinals a team full of confidence, a team ready to win. Jumping out to a 20-10 lead after the first quarter, the Spartans kept Brentwood’s Eagles at bay, maintaining their lead right until the end with a 66-53 victory.

“Glisson had a tremendous first half,” Butcher said, adding that junior Jeremy Gay helped ice the game with a 9-point fourth quarter performance after being in foul trouble for most of the night. “Parker had a season high eight assists; we crashed the offensive boards, grabbing fourteen of them.”

Gay led the team with a total of 18 points, followed by 17 from Glisson and 11 from Parker. Glisson also plucked 11 rebounds while Parked added 5. Carson Woods had 3 steals.

The victory earned the Spartans a shot at the title, which was not something they took lightly.

Parker, a junior playing at guard, said he felt a lot of pressure in the beginning of the season trying to be a team leader. “However, as the season progressed, more and more of my teammates started to lead as well, and everyone knew what needed to be done,” he said. “We knew we wanted the region title.”

On game day, Butcher says the boys were focused and determined. “That’s the weird thing,” he laughs. “They had no game day nerves. They weren’t scared at all. The day before, we’d eaten at Wendy’s together, and after we won that Thursday, they said, ‘Oh, we have to go eat at Wendy’s again.’ So we did. They were just ready for this game. And they came out on fire. They wanted to win from the get-go, and they did it.” The Spartans began the conquest over Monsignor Donavan Catholic High from Athens with an 8-0 run. They made 7 of their first 9 shots and never looked back. By the end of the first quarter, they were ahead 21-8, and never relinquished their lead. At the half, they were ahead 43-21. That lead jumped to 62-34 at the end of the third, and the Spartans finished off Mon Don 68-40 for the bragging rights.

Glisson, Gay and Parker each put up 14 points for the Spartans, with Parker, Glisson and Will Jenkins each also contributing 5 rebounds. Collier Smith had 4 steals.

Butcher, a first-year coach, said every single player was on fire. “Each player was feeding off the other’s enthusiasm,” he said. “We played our best game of the season in the most important one to this date. Before this school year, I didn’t know where I’d have a job, and I ended up at Edmund Burke Academy. It’s probably one of the best decisions I have ever made, coming here and working with this great group of kids. They played so hard, and that’s a testament to their parents and the faculty and staff at EBA. The community should be really proud of them. I know I am.”

Smith, a senior, thinks back over the years that brought the Spartans to this point. “Most of my teammates and I have played together since junior pro, and it feels amazing that I get to experience this success with them,” he said. “After many years of disappointing seasons, it can be hard to keep practicing every day and pushing forward, but we are determined and have the desire to win. My senior year has been one that I will never forget.”

UP NEXT

The Spartans host the second round of the GISA AA State Playoffs in Waynesboro today (Wednesday, Feb. 13) with a 7 p.m. game against First Presbyterian Christian Academy.

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