BRIENSBURG – The objectives for Christian Fellowship School’s basketball program this year are simple – and modest, coach Billy Hodge acknowledges.
Hodge sums up the goals with the numbers 4-2-1.
“We’ve only won two games each of the past two seasons,” Hodge said of his varsity Eagles team. “We want to double that number this year – four wins. We want to beat Community Christian twice. And we want to get a win over a public school.”
He paused and added, “For our school, that’s big.”
According to online results published by the KHSAA for the past 15 seasons, the Eagles have won 16 times against public school opponents, most recently a 59-58 win on Jan. 20, 2005, against Ballard Memorial.
Other wins over public schools in the First Region have been recorded against Murray (three times), Fulton City (twice), Fulton County (twice), Heath and Reidland. Second Region neighbors Livingston Central and Lyon County have fallen to CFS once apiece.
The Eagles scored double victories over Community Christian Academy in Paducah twice during two seasons, in 2000-2001 and 2002-2003.
CFS, a small private academy founded in 1983, has competed on and off in various sports under both KHSAA and KCAC (Kentucky Christian Athletic Conference) affiliation. The boys varsity team was inactive for three years after the 2006-2007 season. CFS will field a girls varsity team this year for the first time since 2006-2007.
The girls’ JV program progressed to the point that they competed in a limited schedule of games against varsity teams from other private academies and participated in the KCAC state tournament.
“We have seven players on the roster,” Hodge said.
Players returning from last year’s JV team include 5-5 senior forward Sunny Lim, 6-0 sophomore center Lydia Powell and 5-4 guard Amber Shelley.
The roster is bolstered by another senior, 5-7 forward Sung Kim, and a trio of sixth-graders, including guards Emily Bridges and Tristen Sanders and forward Rachel Howard.
The middle schoolers, especially Bridges, are adept ball-handlers, Hodges said.
“That’s gonna be a strength this year,” he said. “Last year, it was basically Amber.”
Lim, a native of Korea, had never even heard of basketball until recently, Hodge said.
“She picks up so quickly, you only have to tell her one time,” Hodge said. “She’s a joy to have out there.”
The short bench and youth of the team will be issues, Hodge said.
“We’re gonna be overmatched,” he said. “But in a few years, it will be a lot better.”
On the boys side, the two leading players from last year’s team are back. Eric Teodozow, a 6-2 forward, led the team with a 12.2 scoring average and also pulled down 5.9 rebounds per game. Joe Paul Dean, a 5-8 guard, directed the offense and was second in scoring at an even 10 points.
Those two are joined by three other seniors, but only one, 6-4 Charlie Powell, played last year. Will Na (5-8 guard), Daniel Sassaman (6-0 forward) and Andrew Smith (6-5 center) will get their first varsity experience.
Hodge lost only one player to graduation last year, Joel Kim, who averaged one point and 2.1 rebounds per game. But he will be missing three key underclassmen, all out because of injuries. They include Josh Choate, who led the team in rebounding last year with 6.1 boards per game, and who is sitting out because of medication he is taking to treat a condition that developed during the fall golf season.
Also out is 6-3 Matt Lewis, who started last year as a sophomore. After undergoing shoulder surgery, Lewis suffered a broken elbow on the first day of practice this year and is out at least until January, Hodge said.
Senior Isaac Gibson is out for the entire year because of an ACL injury.
“We took a hit there” with the injury and illness losses, Hodge said. “But Joe Paul and Eric are stepping up to lead the team in the absence of the other boys.”
Hodge will coach both varsity squads, and JV teams as well, with the help of assistants Landon Smith and Ansil Williams.
Smith is a Marshall County High and Western Kentucky University graduate, while Williams, a native of Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean, played at Mid-Continent University in Mayfield and coached for two years at the Mayfield school under former UK standout Winston Bennett.
“He’s a ball of energy,” Hodge said of Williams. “He has really changed the whole outlook here. We’re gonna surprise some teams this year.”