E.A. Sports Today

High season

Basketball season means busy times for Champions Sports Academy, first varsity basketball tournament for facility tips off Saturday

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

The first five months Champions Sports Academy has been open have gone better than any of the founders could have expected. Now that the high school basketball season is here things are really starting to ramp up.

Since opening the doors as the first full-time instructional facility for basketball in the area, Champions has stayed busy with “a bunch of little camps” for teams, individuals and youth. They recently completed a series of successful fall leagues for varsity boys, varsity girls and grades 5 through 8. Now, Academy director Todd Ginn has three high school holiday tournaments scheduled for the Alexandria facility with the first one starting Saturday.

The focus was in Calhoun County, but they’ve recently expanded their footprint into St. Clair and Etowah counties. There are even plans to bring some teams together that normally wouldn’t play and a late-season 7th/8th-grade tournament with teams from Etowah, Calhoun, St. Clair and Cherokee counties.

“Everything is going really, really well; we’re thrilled to death with the response and the feedback were getting back,” Ginn said. “Will (Ginn) and I have had some of the most fun we’ve had all fall when we ran a 3-8 skills camp. We had almost 30 kids come for six straight weeks.”

That enthusiasm spilled over for its winter league registration. The Academy opened signups on Nov. 1 and as early as 4:30 that morning the phones were ringing off the hook.

Now the attention turns to high school sports. The first in-season tournament gets underway Saturday. It’s an eight-team affair with teams from Calhoun, Etowah and Cleburne counties.

The facility also will host a junior high Christmas tournament that starts Dec. 10 and a 12-team varsity boys Christmas tournament that starts Dec. 19. The pairings for the varsity tournament have yet to be announced, giving Ginn, the former Gadsden State head coach, perhaps the first chance in a decade to watch games in order to make the precise fit.

“We want to make basketball season as important as some of these other sports,” Ginn said. “I love football, I love baseball; I played them all. For kids to play 10 football games in third through eighth grade, then 10 or more baseball games and then three or four basketball games, that’s been the norm around here.

“We’re trying to change that and get these kids exposed to all three of those things. I just love the whole aspect of what’s going on and Will and I are having a blast. Lenn Costner and Hal Patterson said from the beginning we’ll let you do it your way and they’ve stuck to their word.”

Champions Sports Academy Varsity Girls Thanksgiving Classic
Saturday’s first-round games
Westbrook Christian vs. Ohatchee, 3 p.m.
White Plains vs. Cleburne County, 4:30 p.m.
Alexandria vs. Weaver, 6 p.m.
Pleasant Valley vs. Faith Christian, 7:30 p.m.

Champions Sports Academy Junior High Boys Christmas Classic
First-round games, Dec. 10
Game 1: Ohatchee vs. White Plains, 10 a.m.
Game 2: Weaver vs. Westbrook Christian, 11:20 a.m.
Game 3: Ohatchee-White Plains winner vs. Southside, 12:40 p.m.
Game 4: Weaver-Westbrook winner vs. Alexandria, 2 p.m.
Game 5: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 3:20 p.m.
Game 6: Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 4:40 p.m.
Game 7: Championship – Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 6 p.m.

Champions Sports Academy Varsity Boys Christmas Classic
Dec. 19, 21-23
Participating teams: Alexandria, Boaz, Cherokee County, Glencoe, Jacksonville, Lincoln, Ohatchee, Saks, Springville, St. Clair County, Weaver, Westbrook Christian

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