Rock Church’s basketball revival

Published 11:50 am Saturday, March 19, 2016

Under the leadership of the pastor Danny Dillon, Rock Church is hoping to revive its once-prominent varsity basketball program.

The first step in doing so, the former Franklin Broncos head coach said, is to find kids at the fifth- and sixth-grade level with a desire to play who have an opportunity to grow together.

“For years, we didn’t have a basketball team because we didn’t have the players, and I was consumed with Broncos basketball,” Dillon said. “Now, we have a group of kids that have a passion for the game — including my sons — so we are going for it.”

The program’s reincarnation has been successful, as the Lions have posted consecutive winning seasons. However, Dillon said that the game is about more than the team’s win-loss record.

“Our heart and drive is to play other teams and make God known,” he said. “We simply want to play with the best sportsmanship and encourage one another across the board. It’s nice to win a basketball game, but it’s sweeter to win a heart for God.”

Dillon’s son, D.J., is the team’s best player, averaging 15 points and five steals per game.

Ben Turner is another star, giving the Lions a presence down low, while Jack Dillon — Danny’s youngest son — Christian Fanjul and Cole Butler round out the starting five.

With all five starters returning next season, Dillon has big hopes for his program.

But even if the Lions fail to become relevant at the varsity level, he knows that he’s already made a difference in his kids’ lives.

“When we played Chesapeake Bay Academy, they had an autistic child that they allowed to play in the last few seconds of the game,” Dillon said. “I nodded to the boys to let him shoot. He missed, but my son kept passing him the ball. [On his] fourth try, the shot goes in at the buzzer!

“That’s what life is about, putting others before yourself.”