Boys basketball: Emmanuel have unfinished business this winter

Senior Fred Shropshire is one of six players back this season for Emmanuel Christian’s boys basketball team. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

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Senior Fred Shropshire is one of six players back this season for Emmanuel Christian’s boys basketball team. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

Despite winning a school record 19 games last winter, the Emmanuel Christian Academy boys basketball team has unfinished business this season.

The Lions are seeking their first-ever Metro Buckeye Conference title after finishing runner-up to Legacy Christian Academy last season. They’re also hoping to make a trip back to the Division IV district finals after falling to Catholic Central in the semifinals in March.

Emmanuel returns six letterwinners from last year’s team, including three of its four leading scorers — seniors Fred Shropshire and Casey Swank and junior Jason Channels. The team’s motto this season is “Unfinished Business.”

“It ties in directly with us not reaching our goals last season,” Swank said. “We want to make up for it this year.”

The Lions (5-2, 4-1 MBC) have won four straight after starting the season 1-2, including losses to Ponitz and Dayton Christian.

“We’re definitely not satisfied,” Shropshire said. “We don’t want to get complacent. We want to keep this winning streak going. I like how our team is playing right now.”

Emmanuel got a “wake-up call” earlier this season when it held a 17-point halftime lead over Dayton Christian, but fell to the Warriors 52-49, said Lions coach Danny Moore.

“I think it’s shown this group you have to come out and work hard every night,” he said. “By all means, I think people considered us the league favorite and you’ve got a target on your back. The guys have learned from it. We’ve seen a lot of great leadership come out of that.”

Shropshire is averaging 17.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game and is nearing 1,000 points for his career. Swank is averaging 15.5 points and Channels is averaging 14.1 points per game.

The Lions made a team record 14 3-pointers in a 73-40 victory over Yellow Springs earlier this month.

“We’ve got four guys who are really consistent from 3,” Moore said. “We shoot a lot of them and we encourage it.”

Swank hit seven 3-pointers in a 71-40 win over Middletown Christian on Dec. 20. The Lions put an emphasis on shooting the ball this summer.

“We definitely pushed each other to get better over the summer shooting the ball from 3-point range,” Shropshire said. “We’re unselfish with making the next pass. A lot of our 3’s are wide open when we take them.”

The Lions host Catholic Central on Friday night and Greenon on Jan. 3. They also play Southeastern and Northwestern as part of their non-conference schedule.

“When you start playing in January, you get into that ice cold stretch where you’re playing Tuesday, Friday and Saturday,” Moore said. “It’s a grind, but that’s why you get ready for it.”

The Lions have several tough road games remaining in the league, including trips to Troy Christian and Jefferson. They’ll also have to take care of business in the Lions Den, Moore said.

“We can’t overlook anybody,” he said.

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