Rock Church School basketball team wins ACE national title

Published 6:49 pm Thursday, June 30, 2022

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The Franklin-based Rock Church School varsity basketball team has made seven appearances in the ACE National Tournament during the squad’s 43 years of existence as a program, but the Lions had never been able to win it all — until this year. 

In April, the Rock Lions traveled to West Virginia and claimed the regional championship, which gave them an invitation to the ACE International Student Convention, a school news release stated. This convention allows students to compete in a variety of events, from arts, to academics, to athletics. There are more than 6,000 ACE schools worldwide, and the Rock Lions proved they are the best ACE basketball program in the U.S. for 2022.

Rock traveled to the Indiana University of Pennsylvania to participate in the national tournament. The Lions defeated teams from Michigan, West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Arkansas to advance to the championship game against Pennsylvania-based Fairview Christian Academy, which won the 2021 national title.

With four minutes left in the championship game, the Rock Lions found themselves down 13 points. Somehow they worked their way back into the game. 

They were down only two points with 14 seconds left. The Lions fouled Fairview’s best player, who then had a one-and-one, giving him the opportunity to make two free throws and seal the win, as long as he made the first free throw. He missed, and Rock got the rebound. 

Junior point guard D.J. Dillon brought the ball down the court, used a screen to his right and launched a deep 3-pointer. The shot went in as the buzzer sounded, and the Rock Lions’ players tackled Dillon on the court. 

“I got a great screen from Seth (Woodward) and pump faked,” Dillon said. “My teammates got me in the right spot. The shot felt good as soon as it left my hands. I just praise God for this opportunity.”

Lions junior power forward Jordan Myrick said, “God honored us with the championship because of how we honor Him through our season.”

Rock Head Coach Danny Dillon gave God the glory for the historic win and noted that D.J. and Myrick were unstoppable throughout the national tourney.

“I’m undone that D.J. was able to hit that shot,” Coach Dillon said. “As a coach and a father, I couldn’t be more proud. It was one of the coolest moments of my life. We celebrate God for giving us this victory!”