Ruskin Warriors eye deep playoff run
District opens at RCS gym Feb. 9 after super regular season
By STEVE JACKSON
Ruskin Christian School winds up a super-successful boys varsity basketball season this week. Now, the (hopefully) 21-1 Warriors under Coach Paul Northrop start what they anticipate to be a deep run in the Florida Christian Western Division independent playoffs. RCS opens the second season in Ruskin Feb. 9 against a foe to be determined. A win will advance the Warriors to play another unnamed opponent Feb. 11 at the Providence Christian gym in Riverview. Another victory in that semi-final contest would propel RCS to the district finals on Feb. 13.
The Warriors, barring a major upset, expect to notch their 21st win of the regular season against a 0-6 Palm Grove Christian team in Sarasota Feb. 2. Then it’s on to FCW district and, possibly, a state championship if the team continues its winning ways. One loss at any point and the Warriors will pack up their uniforms until next season.
In Ruskin last Friday, RCS easily dispatched Central Baptist Lions of Brandon, 67-19. The script was similar to what it has been all season. Senior Caleb Statham poured in 31 points, including seven three-pointers, and freshman Chaz Lewis contributed 14 points. Warrior defense was led by frosh Effraim Marvin, junior Sam Tuch and senior Richard Gibbs who repeatedly harassed and stole the ball from the visitors. Rebounds were also dominated by the Warriors, sparked by seniors Gino Titus and Trent Lewis and aided by freshman Hayden Jordan. RCS totally dominated, jumping out to a 23-0 first quarter lead on Homecoming. In an early-week game, RCS toppled Providence Christian, 76-29, in similar fashion.
Heading in to FCW District play next week, 15-2 Grace Christian of Valrico and RCS are the cream of the crop.
Grace owns the only win over RCS, a 60-53 decision in Valrico in January. RCS beat Grace in Ruskin 56-41 back in December. The two small private-school powerhouses, on opposite ends of the bracket, are expected to meet in the finals Feb. 13.