The top 5 plays from the Flames' come-from-behind win Saturday over Christian School of York. Matt Catrillo/GameTimePA.com
GRANTVILLE – It was supposed to be a season of fulfilling high expectations for the New Covenant Christian boys basketball team.
But when a team tries to put together new pieces with a new coaching staff quickly, the expectation of a productive season sometimes doesn’t come to fruition.
In the midst of what’s turned out to be a tough season, Flames coach David Miller is proud of his team for continuing to show toughness, which was on full display as New Covenant Christian erased a 13-point halftime deficit and turned it into a 43-40 win over Christian School of York (7-13) Saturday at Summit International School of Ministry.
“I really feel like we came out a little flat to begin,” Miller said. “But our team has grown immensely in their ability to be a fighter. We told them it was going to be a grind, and if they’re going to want a chance of winning this, they were going to fight every minute. We challenged them with that at halftime and we responded.”
The Flames’ (4-11, 3-5) comeback was complete late in the fourth quarter, taking a 33-32 lead thanks to a strong drive to the cup by Toby Kornhaus, who finished tied for a game-high 14 points.
“It was all intensity,” Kornhaus said. “After coach gave us that good pep talk at halftime, we were ready to fight. We wanted to win so badly. That just gets you so focused on what you’re supposed to do. That’s what wins you games.”
“Toby has been an incredible asset to our team on and off the court,” Miller said. “His ability to knock down big shots is great, but his ability to step up as a leader and help keeps the guys’ mentality off the court strong is even better.”
A time of transition isn’t something new to Miller, who in his first season with the Flames – but holding his players to the highest standard from the beginning is something he’ll never change.
Miller said, “I’ve come from programs that in past have gone through change, and we’ve always had our expectations high. As a coaching staff, we’re not going to change that here. Learning the system, the teams, and the players we have was a learning curve. But we expect our guys to keep living up to those expectations.”
One aspect of the game where the Flames have flourished throughout the season on the stat sheet in displaying that toughness is on the glass, as New Covenant Christian outrebounded its opponent 37-13, including giving itself plenty of second-chance opportunities with a 16-1 advantage on the offensive boards – which definitely played a factor as the game went on.
“I was very proud,” Miller said. “We hit them hard during practices. We also missed one of our other big guys tonight who alone counts for 10 to 15 rebounds per game. To see these guys step in the way they were able to fight is incredible.”
But with plenty of other fundamentals to improve upon, Miller says establishing a more cohesive unit is the first priority.
“We have to be able to swing the ball better," Miller said. “But a lot of that is team chemistry, which is what we’ve struggled with since a lot of our guys haven’t played together. But as we’ve gone through the season, the team chemistry’s gotten better, and our fundamentals have gotten better.”
And establishing team unity starts this summer.
“It’ll be a huge help without a doubt,” Miller said. “We’ve got guys dedicated and will be ready to work in the spring. We love that, but we still have more of the season to play.”