Points in the paint are a key statistic for every basketball team, especially so for the first at Christ School to be coached by Matt Cioce ’13.
Coach Cioce was promoted from assistant to head coach in April. And while he may have once played guard for the Greenies, this season’s team will draw its strength from the post.
“Offensively, a lot of the focus will be getting our bigs in motion and going towards the rim,” Cioce said. “We want to attack the paint as much as possible. Hopefully our wings will be able to take some pressure off by making (3-pointers), but we want as many paint touches per game as we can get. I tell the team that all the time.”
The Greenies will take the floor Friday for their season opener against Hickory Grove Christian with only five players who have varsity experience. But what the group lacks in seasoning, it should make up for with size down low, led by returning starters Justice Ajogbor ’20 and De’Ante Green ’22.
Justice, a 6-foot-10 senior, became the highest-rated recruit to ever give a commitment to Harvard University in September. Meanwhile, De’Ante’s star has been on a continual rise when it comes to recruiting. As of this writing, the 6-foot-8 sophomore holds scholarship offers from Penn State, Texas A&M, DePaul, Elon, North Carolina A&T, Winthrop, and Norfolk State.
The presence of Justice and De’Ante in the post should be supplemented by a number of players, including Charlie Browder ’21, who averaged 13 points and 9.6 rebounds per game last season for Dobyns-Bennett (Tenn.).
Drew Redmond ’21 will run the point, while seniors Adam Keever ’20 (shooting guard) and Ray Faison ’20 (small forward) are expected to round out Christ School’s starting five. Ray is a newcomer with freakish athleticism "who has the potential to be an x-factor for us," Cioce said. Hard work in the offseason by Ty Besses '22 should result in minutes off the bench for the sophomore.
Coach Cioce expects to tinker with the lineup as the season progresses and he get players back from the Greenie football team like freshman guard Zack Myers '23. In all, the Greenies will have five seniors – Justice, Ray, Adam, Jack Knott ’20, and Michael Mahoney ’20.
“It’s an inexperienced group. A lot of the guys are going to have to figure things out along the way,” Cioce said. “We’re going to do a lot of adjusting on the fly. It’s going to make me a better coach.”
Christ School went 16-14 last season, but got hot at the right time. The Greenies won the Carolinas Athletic Association Tournament before reaching the NCISAA 4-A state championship game, where they lost to Greensboro Day, 67-53. There will be a rematch Saturday at 3:45 p.m. on the campus of Carmel Christian in Matthews, N.C., the same site as Friday’s 4:30 p.m. game against Hickory Grove.