By David Halbrook; pictures by Gabrielle Ryan
Patrick Henry College
Team captain Jensen Near (senior), #42; freshman Jason Lloyd #25 in background
By the end of a game that Campbell described as “a typical college game where we had streaks of very good play and then chaos and poor play and turnovers, then settling down in the second half with excellent team defense, strong rebounding, and, eventually, pulling away,” PHC evened up its season record at 6-6.
“We won the series (with Christendom), and that’s also a first,” he said. “We’ve never beaten them two times in any year since PHC has existed. It’s also the first time we’ve played them on our home court, so that was extremely satisfying.”
Campbell credited the “team” with the victory in the truest sense, with senior Jensen Near scoring 20 points, freshman Jordan Sillars handling pressure and providing steady back court leadership, and a rotating cast of players hustling, hammering the boards, snagging rebounds and inflicting a stiff perimeter defense.
With four games remaining before the season-ending Shenandoah and Chesapeake Conference Tournament, Feb. 12-13, hosted by PHC in its Barbara Hodel Center, Campbell marvels at how having an actual home court advantage has impacted the team, with bleachers of cheering fans fueling a newfound team spirit.
“Our players organized the half-time activities, with pizza giveaways and shooting contests, which is just a blast,” he said. “I’ve had nothing to do with that.”
Additional “firsts” for the Sentinels this season include: PHC defending home court in its first game in the new gym, PHC’s first appearance in the championship game of the Wagner Classic (November league tournament at Mid-Atlantic Christian University), the first PHC win on Mid-Atlantic Christian University’s (formerly Roanoke Bible College) home court, and, says Campbell with a chuckle, “the first time we’ve not lost to Maryland Bible College by at least 50 points.”
Of all the gratifying “firsts” culminating in Wednesday’s win, however, Campbell cites near the top of the list his postgame chat with Christendom’s coach.
“Both the coach and one of his players expressed very enthusiastically how beautiful our facility was and how fortunate PHC’s student body was to have a gym like that,” he recalled. “It was a wonderful reminder of how blessed we’ve been.”