McDONOUGH — Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy has started their season with a bang, winning 12 of its first 14 games, including six straight wins in Region 5-A Private play.
With the first half of the season behind them, the Chargers find themselves at the top of the region standings. Second-year head coach Derrick Mason said he’s noticing a difference in his team from year one to year two.
“We have improved at a much faster rate than last season,” Mason said. “This year, we have been very intentional about doing team activities to ensure our team chemistry was good and the relationships between players and coaches are authentic. In my opinion, it has worked. Our guys play for one another and genuinely love and value each other. I am extremely blessed to work with good coaches, quality players, supportive parents and a phenomenal administration.”
The Chargers are currently led by junior Malachi Rhodes, who is averaging 14.6 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Players like Kelvin Jones III (10.6 PPG), Jamaine Mann (9.6 PPG), Mekhi Cameron (8.7 PPG), Trevon Reddish (8.1 PPG) and Kamari Smith (7.1 PPG) have also contributed for ELCA.
ELCA’s record in region play has placed a target on the team’s back. The Chargers have outscored their opponents 444-256 in league play thus far.
Mason said that his team is still getting used to being the hunted.
“We must continue to focus on us and our process of getting one percent better each day. We are aware that we are getting teams’ best games and we welcome it,” Mason said. “This is why we work so hard and make sure we are prepared. By focusing on what we can control — which is our attention to detail, effort and energy — the wins and losses will take care of themselves.
“I believe that the day we stop getting better is the day we start getting worse,” Mason continued. “I say this because there are players and coaches out there who are committed to greatness. That is why we must be intentional about getting better in all aspects of life daily in order to achieve our goals.”
The Chargers recently put together an eight-game winning streak before losing to Southwest DeKalb by one point in the Tournament of Champions at Wheeler High School. ELCA responded with three wins during the rest of the tournament, beating Holy Innocents’, Heritage and North Atlanta.
ELCA has been one of the hottest teams in the state during the first two months of the season. Yet, Mason said he knows his team will be judged on how it plays in January.
“As any good coach will tell you the team needs to be playing its best basketball in January,” Mason said. “Peaking too early or not peaking at all does not display the characteristics of a championship caliber program. I am very pleased with where we are right now.”