Class 2A blog: Providence Christian boys, shooting at record pace, aim for region title

Storm can add to remarkable 4-year run by winning 8-2A

If there’s one thing Providence Christian Storm opponents can count on, it’s that they’ll be shooting a ton of 3-pointers. Throw in some defense, and you have a Storm team that’s ranked No. 3 and sitting at 17-3, 5-1 in Region 8.

The Storm have already set the program record for 3s made in a season, breaking the previous record of 192, set last season. The Storm (17-3, 5-1 Region 8) sit at 198 made and their next opportunity to surpass 200 comes Friday at home against East Jackson (7-13, 1-4).

The Storm will look to rebound from a 81-78 loss Jan. 20 at Union County (13-7, 4-1), a team they beat 74-38 on Jan. 3. A win over East Jackson would give them 13 in the last 14. Their 12-game win streak included wins over Mill Creek and WD Mohammed.

A lot went wrong for the Storm against Union County. Most notably, they lost on a buzzer-beating half-court shot.

Storm coach Joey Thacker said the loss came down to defense.

“We had the win streak and beat some good teams,” Thacker said. “We played in some showcases, beat some teams in our region and we’re playing really well. We have really unselfish players who have great character, and we’re a unified team. But that doesn’t mean we’re not capable of drifting a little bit. We drifted on the defensive side of the ball. We can shoot well, and we play without a true big, but we shoot and play defense. So when you don’t bring defense to the game, especially a road game, that will get you beat.

“(The loss) is going to be good for us, because we’ll get back to the basics defensively.”

After East Jackson, the Storm have three more region games before the postseason, with their final regular season game at Banks County on Feb. 7.

Though the Storm don’t roster a traditional center, they have length and size to compete in the post, and the versatility to defend and shoot the perimeter. They have a number of 3-point shooters, led by Thacker’s son, junior guard Samuel Thacker, who is on pace to break the school’s individual record for 3-pointers made in a season. Kam Carryl, Chandler Dunn, Thomas Malcolm and Ephraim Rowell are all threats from deep.

Devin Long, a senior forward standing at 6-foot-4, is the team’s best athlete and all-around player. He also shoots a lot of 3s.

“We’re position-less,” Thacker said. “We space the floor a lot, and we like to play that way. Last year, we had Tony (Carpio, 6-foot-8), who’s playing at Citadel now. He was more of a true big, so we played more four (players) around one. Now, we like to be a little more perimeter oriented.”

The Storm have advanced to the second round in 1A Private in each of the last three seasons. The furthest they’ve been is the 1A quarterfinals, in 2002 and 2010. They’ll have plenty of experience to draw from this year as they attempt a deep playoff run, because they’ve played in a number of close games.

Seven of their games have been decided by six points or less, and they’re 5-2 in those games — including a 54-48 win over 3A’s No. 8 Wesleyan on Nov. 29. Other close wins include 7A’s Denmark (60-58) and Mill Creek (82-20), 5A’s Lakeside (67-63) and GIAA 4A’s George Walton Academy (67-64).

“When you build your schedule to play up (in classification) and on the road, you’ll be in a lot of tough games,” Thacker said. “I feel like this team knows how to survive. We survived a double-overtime game after hitting a 3 to put us into double-overtime. We have a lot of experience to draw from.

“We want to be great responders, and to have mental toughness when something goes wrong late in a game. Make the next play and move on. Respond to adversity. The team is starting to buy into that. It’s just one play. Move on. That’s helped.”

There’s plenty of basketball to be played between now and the state playoffs. Thacker said the only focus right now is earning a No. 1 seed.

“We’ve been to state every year and done well,” Thacker said. “We’ve been ranked. Our program, right now, is closing in on 85 wins in four years. That’s awesome, but we haven’t won a region tournament. That’s our only goal right now, to win the region tournament.

“Then, we can talk about a deep playoff run.”