Rock Lions Off To An Electric 4-1 Start

Published 9:19 am Monday, January 22, 2024

By Miles Dawkins

The Rock Church School varsity boys basketball team faced what seemed to be a lot of adversity heading into this season, as they lost 4 seniors to graduation, one of them being 37-points-per-game scorer D.J. Dillon, who led the Lions for so many years. Last year Rock had a banner year finishing 24 and 4 with a 1A MACAA Dual State Title and finishing Fifth at the ACE Nationals. So with this in mind, and the fact that the Lions added three new players, nobody would have been surprised if the Lions fell off from last year. But with a 4 and 1 start against strong competition, that narrative is fading away. 

Regardless of any narrative, the Rock Lions have 3 goals in mind; give God all the glory, be a testimony of Jesus Christ, and walk out what it’s like to live for and love like Him. Coupled with their determination to win, they were ready for their first game of the season on November 14. The season opener was a thriller, as the Rock Lions faced off against the Denbigh Baptist Christian School Minutemen. There was much excitement and nerves surrounding this game, and with the lead changing multiple time down the stretch of this game, the Lions fell short one point, losing 57-58. With so many new players, and little time for team chemistry to develop, a loss was expected, especially with such little time to prepare. But there was some highlights in the game, with new members such as junior forward Christian Johnson, who wreaked havoc on defense with an impressive 9 blocks, and senior guard Brandon Williams, who pulled down 14 rebounds. Junior guard Miles Dawkins led the game in scoring with 27 points, and although the Lions fell short, they were hopeful, knowing that this game was a steppingstone for growth, and preparation for the tough opponents that awaited them. 

Next on the schedule, they had YAK Academy from Norfolk, and as the Lions looked to bounce back, they did just that with a 52-28 victory. Senior guard Brandon Williams led the game with 22 points, followed by Miles Dawkins with 16 points. This game prepared them greatly for the tough opponent they had following Thanksgiving break on Nov. 28, the Brunswick Academy Vikings. The Vikings, who finished top 8 in the VISAA states last year, proved to be a valiant foe, as the game came down to the wire. But the Rock Lions came out victorious, winning 52-48. Miles Dawkins had 18 points, and Benny Dillon had 9, together combining for six made 3-pointers. Brandon Williams also scored a game high 22 points, with a pair of clutch 3-pointers down the stretch to cut Brunswick’s lead to 4. And with a minute and a half remaining, just when Rock needed it most, Christian Johnson made a 3-pointer to put the Lions up 46-45, and after that big bucket, the Lions pulled away as the game came to a close. 

This was a big win for the Lions, and they looked to carry this momentum into their first home game of the season against the local, Southampton Academy Raiders. This game was highly anticipated throughout the community, as it’s been about four years since these two teams have faced off, and the game would not disappoint. The Lions would win, 60-44, with the game’s leading scorer Brandon Williams, who scored 22 points, which included a monster put-back dunk in the third quarter. Along with 17 points from Miles Dawkins, and a strong 12 points from Christian Johnson on his highest scoring night as a Lion so far. The Rock Lions did dominate every facet of the game but both teams enjoyed great camaraderie with the Raiders of SA. The Rock Lions JV poured it on as well. Freshman, Benny Dillon, and his little brother Dallas, connected on 7 three pointers to lead the Lions to a commanding 36 to 26 victory. 

The Isle of Wight Academy Chargers were next for the Lion’s varsity squad, and coming off a big win, Rock was looking to continue their winning streak. The Lions kept the streak alive with a big 21-point win over Isle of Wight Academy, winning 64-43. Brandon Williams, finished the game with a phenomenal 40 points, slicing through defenders and getting whatever he wanted on the offensive end. The Rock Lions Varsity team however, wasn’t the only Rock team experiencing success, for their Junior Varsity squad was thriving as well. Taking down Denbeigh Academy, SA and Albemarle. 

“We are excited about starting off so well. Losing DJ, and four other seniors, we knew we had our work cut out for us to be relevant. The additions of Brandon Williams, Christian Johnson and Jaedon Small are such a blessing. We look to watch them grow on the court, and to help their relationship with the Lord. That goes for all of our players, we strive to build young men that will love God on off and off the court, and prepare them to be good husbands, fathers and citizens. Wins and losses will come and go but Jesus will always remain.” Coach Dillon added. 

These wins give Rock a great start to the season, and prepares them for making a run to repeat as the 1A MACAA Dual State Champions. The Rock Lions have a tough schedule leading up to the end of the year, but they look to continue to glorify God, win games, and hopefully make a run to repeat as the 1A MACAA Dual State Champions.