Boys basketball: Channels brothers leading Emmanuel Christian Academy

Emmanuel Christian Academy junior Justus Channels drives to the hoop against Yellow Springs' Malik Thomas during their game on Tuesday, Dec. 15. Channels and his brother Jason are two of the top scorers in the Metro Buckeye Conference this season. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED
Emmanuel Christian Academy junior Justus Channels drives to the hoop against Yellow Springs' Malik Thomas during their game on Tuesday, Dec. 15. Channels and his brother Jason are two of the top scorers in the Metro Buckeye Conference this season. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

SPRINGFIELD — The Channels brothers may have a sibling rivalry in practice, but it doesn’t show when the whistle blows on game night.

Emmanuel Christian Academy senior Jason Channels and his brother Justus Channels are leading the Lions squad this season, ranking among the top-10 scorers in the Metro Buckeye Conference. Justus is averaging 15.8 points per game this year, while Jason is averaging 12.3 ppg for the Lions (2-2, 1-1 MBC) this season.

“It’s one we’ve been looking forward to since we’ve been in high school at the same time,” Jason Channels said. “For us to be the main players on the varsity squad, it’s special. We’ve got good chemistry. I’ve been waiting for it for a long time.”

The duo combined to score 39 points in the Lions’ 66-40 victory over Yellow Springs on Tuesday night.

“We know how to find each other off the ball and on the ball,” Justus Channels said. “It’s great and it opens up other teammates.”

The brothers grew up playing basketball together, constantly having “backyard battles” as children, Jason said.

“It was super intense, but it only made us better,” he said. “We know how to push each other for sure.”

Emmanuel Christian Academy senior Jason Channels shoots the ball over Yellow Springs' Javas McNair during their game on Tuesday, Dec. 15. Channels and his brother Justus are two of the top scorers in the Metro Buckeye Conference this season. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED
Emmanuel Christian Academy senior Jason Channels shoots the ball over Yellow Springs' Javas McNair during their game on Tuesday, Dec. 15. Channels and his brother Justus are two of the top scorers in the Metro Buckeye Conference this season. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

Those battles have often extended into open gyms and practices, said Lions coach Danny Moore.

“Let’s just say I’ve had to step in a couple times and if they weren’t brothers, I’d be a little bit more concerned,” he said. “For awhile, I started putting them on the same team.”

The Channels brothers join a talented group of brother duos who have played at ECA over the years, Moore said.

“These two are competitors and they’re coachable,” he said. “They’re a dream to coach. They’re a lot of fun to work with.”

They’re also willing to accept roles to make the team better, Moore said. Justus Channels is averaging a team-high 3.3 assists, while Jason Channels is averaging 5.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game.

“You’ll see them making passes, getting the other guys involved,” Moore said. “They’re both defensive-focused as well and that’s always fun as well. They want to see their teammates be successful.”

The brothers were key pieces in the Lions’ run to their first-ever MBC championship and second-ever Division IV district final appearance last winter.

After graduating six seniors from last year’s team, the Channels brothers are now the de facto leaders on the floor for the Lions. Jason is the team’s lone senior and Justus is the only other player with major varsity experience returning this season.

It’s taken a while for the Lions to get acquainted on the floor. They weren’t able to play summer league together due to COVID-19 and missed three scrimmages after being quarantined in late November. The team is still learning on the fly, Moore said.

“We have some obvious learning curves and getting put on quarantine didn’t help things either,” Jason said. “We’ve had a lot of adversity and I think it’s going to make us better in the end when we get to tournament time.”

Tuesday’s win against Yellow Springs was a step in the right direction for the Lions. They hit 10 3-pointers in the victory, including four by Jason Channels.

“We have a lot of things to work on, but winning will give the guys good motivation going forward,” Justus said.

Season debut: The Springfield boys basketball team will make its season debut on Friday night against Springboro. The Wildcats have a new coach in former Thurgood Marshall coach Shawn McCullough. The game is expected to be live streamed. More information will be posted on the Springfield City School District Facebook page.

Champaign County rivalry: A big non-conference game is scheduled for Friday night — West Liberty-Salem at Graham.

The schools have combined to win seven straight games. The Tigers are 4-1 after a season-opening loss to Miami East. Graham is 3-0 and hosts Benjamin Logan on Friday night.

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