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PHC Hoopsters Cap Off a Growing Season

March 6th, 2009

By Josiah Helms
Pictures by Chrissy Schneider

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 338-8727
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

When the final whistle blew on February 15, ending the season for PHC’s men’s basketball team, there was much discussion among the players about experiences gained and lessons learned. This season, the Sentinels won three games, qualified for the Shenandoah Valley Athletic Conference in February, and finished third place after a series of dramatic games, including a grueling combination of three in 26 hours. Their loyal fan base caught the spirit and doubled in size, becoming a distinct presence at both home and away games.

Coach Bruce Campbell, who has coached the PHC Sentinels for six years straight, said he was genuinely impressed by the team’s overall competitiveness this year. “I think they did very well,” he said, “and I don’t say that just so they’ll feel good. Their attitude, and how these young men respond to underdog situations, is excellent.”

Jensen Near, PHC junior and Sentinels basketball team captain

Coach Campbell referenced some of the obstacles the players faced, including “very few practices,” due to the conflicting, or competing, schedules. These are true “student-athletes” who are as likely to compete on PHC’s national championship moot court team as they are to perform in Eden Troupe’s student-led theatrical productions. And when mid-terms or finals roll around, practices and even games often take a back seat.

“There have been potentially frustrating situations when they’re not on the winning side,” he added, “or when referees make calls that they feel are wrong — yet, I’d say they’ve met a very high standard of sportsmanship.”

Looking toward the future, Campbell concluded, “When the [Barbara Hodel] student center is completed next year — that should make a huge difference. Wait ’til you see them then.”

The players themselves said they enjoyed the season immensely, primarily for the opportunity to compete at a high level and to represent both Christ and the College to their competitors. And the players noted, as in the following quotes, that the increase in fans and young talent on the team “energized their ranks”:

Jensen Near (21), team captain and center: “For us to field a team this year that was able to do the work of two teams, once playing three games in 26 hours, was just amazing. We are incredibly busy students who don’t come from highly athletic backgrounds, and yet I think we exceeded expectations for this season.”
 
Jonathan Carden (20), point guard, power forward, “pretty much everything but Jensen’s position”: “Coach (Bruce) Campbell, with his helpful pointers and really good insights, had a huge influence on all of us. It was neat to see him giving up his time, his effort, and pretty much everything else. We had some really good new guys this year, who came in with good attitudes: Sammy Dallas, Brett Harris, and Adam Fisher, to name a few. They were all competitive guys who added to the chemistry of the team as a whole. It was refreshing to see that.”

Sammy Dallas (19), forward: “Choosing to join the team was really quite easy. I played roller hockey for ten years in my home state of Michigan before coming to PHC. If I wasn’t playing sports, then my life just wouldn’t feel right. I’m grateful that at PHC, I’m not only challenged mentally, but I’m also able to develop camaraderie and teamwork outside of the classroom. There’s nothing like playing with guys and making friends with them. I also noticed that picking up the ball helped me during school, because there were times of stress where I’d prefer to run outside and clear my head.”
 
Levi Kauffman (21), forward: “With the talent that we had this year from the guys who are underclassmen I think our team is going to be solid next year. I can see us doing really well once the Student Center finishes and we finally have a gym to practice in.”