NEWARK — Eli Cooper’s mother and father found Granville Christian Academy via an Web search.
Two years later, Cooper was receiving one of many greatest cheers throughout senior night time festivities Thursday. He then lifted the GCA boys basketball staff to a 36-32 victory in opposition to visiting Delaware Christian at Fifth Road Gymnasium in Mid-Ohio Christian Athletic League play.
“It is heartwarming. I like it,” mentioned Cooper, flashing a victorious grin. He beforehand attended Tri-Valley. “I get accepted right here, and I admire it.”
Cooper has offered a giant enhance to the Lions (4-10, 3-5) He scored a go-ahead basket off an help from junior Andrew Benvie, and he and sophomore Bentley Johnson every made two clutch free throws for the sport’s closing 4 factors.
“I like stress,” Cooper mentioned. “I need to be the one capturing the ball on the finish of the sport. That is what I do.”
The GCA ladies earlier additionally fought to the end in opposition to Delaware Christian. After dropping standout junior Brianna Hubbard to damage late within the third quarter, the Lions (8-6, 5-3) had been edged 35-30 by the Eagles (9-5, 5-3), who acquired 17 factors from sophomore Addy Beard and gained their sixth consecutive recreation.
Disappointment didn’t linger lengthy. Throughout these senior night time festivities, seniors Natalia Locke, Ellie Flowers and Chloe Hamilton every acquired a giant ovation.
“It is one of many stunning issues about being right here at Granville Christian,” GCA ladies coach Greg Rhoads mentioned. “You get to know them on a private degree. To see them acknowledged like that makes all of that worthwhile. Robust loss, but it surely makes you smile and admire what we’re doing out right here.”
GCA additionally acknowledged cheerleaders Addie Haga and Chloe Hansen, Alexandra Cannone, who swims for Northridge, and Kamden Lawson, who performs hockey for the Newark Generals.
“As a result of it is just a little college, extra individuals can come and help one another, and since everyone knows one another, it is like a giant household,” mentioned Locke, the women staff’s level guard.
The GCA boys had been in a position to flip the tables on Delaware Christian (6-9, 4-4) after dropping the season’s first assembly 59-49. Cooper scored twice early earlier than going to bench with two fouls, and the Lions trailed 19-11 at halftime.
The Lions surged again within the third quarter as Benvie hit a pair of 3s, and Johnson scored on a breakaway off a steal. Sophomore Zack Leija assisted Cooper after grabbing an offensive rebound early within the fourth quarter.
“It is satisfying for it to be a detailed recreation and also you come out on prime,” Cooper mentioned. “To be sincere, I did not play that properly within the first half. Within the second half, we performed so much higher. We play for God’s glory, and that is all that issues.”
Cooper led a balanced assault with 12 factors, and Benvie and Johnson added 11 apiece. Junior Landen Pound grabbed a key steal late with the Lions main 34-32.
GCA, which returned simply Benvie and Cooper from final 12 months’s beginning lineup, has gained two of its final three video games. The Lions host Fisher Catholic on Monday.
“We have positively come alongside within the second half of the season,” mentioned GCA boys coach Caleb Patton, who has moved over a seat on the bench after aiding Michael Williams.
“We have now numerous younger guys that need to contribute,” Patton added. “They hadn’t performed a lot basketball, however they’re all coming alongside and searching nice.”
The women recreation was a close to carbon copy as junior Ella Rhoads hit a pair of 3s, together with one to beat the second-quarter buzzer, to spark GCA following a sluggish begin.
Locke’s pull-up jumper within the lane halfway via the third quarter gave GCA a lead at 23-22. Hubbard went coast-to-coast with a steal earlier than injuring her ankle.
“What we have talked about is personal your piece of the puzzle,” Greg Rhoads mentioned. “Every night time, your piece may look totally different. To see the women step up and personal that and have their successes in numerous methods, it is nice.”
Ella Rhoads led GCA with 10 factors, and Hubbard added six as six Lions reached the scoring column, together with Flowers and freshman Skyler Weekley, who mixed for all seven of their factors within the second half. Regardless of being one of many smallest gamers on the ground, sophomore Elizabeth Cox grabbed key rebounds.
The Lions, who host Utica on Monday and Gilead Christian subsequent Thursday, graduated standouts Hannah Hubbard and Darynne Zellar, however a three-game successful streak early within the season despatched them on a wave of momentum that has them in attain of back-to-back successful seasons. Locke’s return to this system after sitting out two seasons has been a giant carry.
“We have now numerous staff chemistry, so we will do nice issues,” Locke mentioned. “Successful positively provides you confidence, however deep down, we all know we’re an excellent staff, and we’re going to combat to the top.”