BY MATT MENCARINI | STAFF WRITER
You may see some people running the Halifax River Bridge this summer. Don’t be alarmed. It’ll likely be the Calvary Christian boys basketball team. They’ll be running, in part, as conditioning for next season.
But let's be honest, many of them will also probably be running away from how they’re season ended, with a 56-49 loss to First Academy-Leesburg Feb. 14, in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs.
“It was a heartbreaker,” head coach John Rogers said of the game. “It’s something the kids will remember.”
The Lions found themselves in a 12-0 hole, Rogers said, in the first few minutes of the game, in a small, raucous gym.
Rogers said he was forced to call a timeout and told his players all they needed to do was calm down and play their game. And it worked. The Lions were leading with eight minutes left in the game.
But then First Academy started to press. Rogers thought that might happen and reviewed the team’s press break in Ormond Beach, just before they boarded the bus for Leesburg.
“When the press came, they acted like they were in another world,” Rogers said. “(We) turned the ball over a couple times and they just chipped away at our lead, just chipped away at our lead.”
And Calvary played hard to get that lead, Rogers said, and without any help from the officials.
“There was a couple plays, that we went up for a layup, (and) I thought there was contact and we didn't get a call,” he said. “Little things like that kill your moment. Basketball is a game of momentum and we just didn't recover.”
Rogers and his players are taking a well-deserved break, he added, but as soon as they’re allowed to start working out as a team and preparing for next season, that’s exactly what they’ll be doing.
“From Day One, we wanted to go to Polk County (for the State Finals),” Rogers said. “That was our goal. We set the goal high. I think if you don't write your goal, you won't achieve it.”
Calvary will be writing their goal all summer, as each footstep pounds Granada Bridge, like pounding a typewriter’s keys. Because as Rogers and his players now know, eight minutes can make for a long offseason.