ACA boys basketball is seasoned, girls’ team young

Jonathan Bennett
Special to The Black Mountain News

The Asheville Christian Academy boys basketball team is coming off another banner year. After a 22-win season and the program’s third trip to the state semifinal round in the last four years, the Lions are once again poised for another successful season.

Leading the way for the Lions is a talented senior class. Jordan Shepherd, a 6-foot-3 point guard, is coming off a stellar junior campaign which saw him take home conference player of the year and all-state honors. He brings his 23-point-a-game average to this year’s club and will be the straw that stirs the drink for the Lions this season. Shepherd has received 15 Division I scholarship offers, and that number should rise as the year progresses.

Michael Steward, a 6-foot-5 senior, brings toughness, leadership and interior scoring to this year’s Lions club. Steward was also named to the all-conference team a season ago and has led the team in scoring over the first three scrimmage games so far this year. Wale Ogundeyi, a 6-foot-8, 225-pound senior, is being courted by a number of Division I football schools, but he’ll bring his power and size to the Lions this season.

Seniors Lucas Sluder and Alex Cash will offer a hard-nosed defensive mind set and perimeter shooting. Seniors Jared Sellers and Zach Andrews will provide much-needed depth in the post.

Juniors Coleman Compton and Alex Jenkins are slated to join Shepherd and Steward in the starting lineup along with newcomer Chris Clayton, a 6-foot-7 athletic post. Other notables on this year’s squad are junior Kennedy Kincaid, who brings a tough perimeter defensive mentality to the floor, and classmates Max Hill and Jake Andrews who are both high percentage three-point shooters.

The Lions will face one of the toughest schedules in school history, squaring off against one private school after another with collegiate-level talent. Scattered throughout the ACA schedule are also games against local public schools Erwin, Madison and Avery, along with conference matches against local rivals Carolina Day and Christ School.

ACA girls basketball

The ACA girls team will have several new faces on this years squad. Gone are long-time starters Taylor Robinson, Moriah Siemens and Maribeth Harrington. “This year’s girls team is very young, composed of eighth, ninth and 10th graders with one lone senior,” said head girls coach John Williams. “I am quite excited to rebuild this program, and our girls have accepted the challenge eagerly.”

This edition of the ACA Lions will be led by the lone returning starter, sophomore Emma Newton. She is coming off a strong summer circuit and will be relied upon heavily to lead the Lions on the offensive end of the floor. Fellow sophomore Joy Barker will share a big chunk of the offensive load with Newton. She has a natural feel for the game and will be a key piece of the Lion squad on both ends of the floor.

Freshman Brantley Compton will be called upon to handle the point guard duties and is the Lions’ best perimeter defender. She’ll be joined in the back court by the teams most improved player from a year ago, Kayla Ausbrook. Eighth-grader Sophie Whalen will also see significant minutes at the guard position.

Savanna King is the lone senior on this year’s team and should provides solid play on the interior. Freshman Anna Harrington, and Jestina Malone, will bring toughness and athleticism to this year’s squad.

Both the boys and girls squads open up their season on Friday, Nov. 13 in Fayetteville against Village Christian.