Expanded church league tips off season

Feb. 14—The Lebanon Church League tipped off its sixth season last Saturday at First Baptist Church Lebanon's Christian Life Center.

The league has grown to 12 teams with newcomers First Baptist Watertown, Crossroads Fellowship and Connect Church.

The league donates a minimum of $500 each season to the local charity of the championship church's choice. In the previous five years, the league has donated $3,000 to the Brooks House, Compassionate Hands and Sherry's Hope.

St. Frances Cabrini 61, Bethlehem Church of Christ 47

The season tipped off with a matchup between the 2019 and '21 champions.

St. Frances led by 8-12 points for most of the contest. While both teams used their size and length to play zone, St. Frances got rich from outside, hitting five 3-pointers in the first half. Point guard Kam Gilpin led a balanced attack with 14 points.

Bethlehem struggled to score from outside. It was led by Mark Sandoval's 20 points.

Providence UMC 47, Maple Hill Church of Christ 24

A short-handed Providence squad was able to knock down enough outside shots and play a stifling defense to keep a healthy lead for most of the game. Point guard Jay Murphy knocked down three 3-pointers in the second half to extend a seven-point halftime lead. Shooting guard Christian Bell led the winners with 13 points.

Carter Tignor led Maple Hill with eight points, including a pair of 3s.

The Journey 44, Pickett Rucker 33

The Journey took down defending champion Pickett Rucker after trailing by two at halftime. Guards Hunter Christian and Caden Baird each scored over half of their points in the second half, finishing with 12 and 14 total, respectively.

Pickett Rucker struggled from 3. Kadarian Garnett and Charles Stewart each scored nine points, primarily from midrange.

First Baptist Watertown 73, Mt. Juliet Church of God 63

First-time league member Watertown filled the basket from 3. But 2020 champion Mt. Juliet only trailed by five points at halftime and stayed within striking distance the entire game.

Both teams were led by their youth ministers. Mt. Juliet's Zac Anderson outscored Watertown's Seth Price (Wilson County high school boys basketball's only 2,000-point scorer) 32-26, even though Price's team was the winner.

Connect Church 58, Cornertone Baptist (Carthage) 43

Another first-time member won its league debut as Connect Church scored early on thanks to a transition offense. Cornerstone's usually reliable outside shooters were stymied by Connect's pressure defense.

Connect's Kevonta Black and Cornerstone's Paul Byrnes each finished with 15 points.

Generation Changers 72, Crossroads Fellowship 20

Generation Changers got off to a fast start and never looked back, leading by 30 at halftime. Eleven different Generation Changers players scored, led by shooting guard Blake Belford's 12 points.

Guard Bill Washer led Crossroads with seven points, mostly from midrange.

This Saturday's games

1 p.m. Bethlehem vs. Connect Churchy

2 p.m. Maple Hill vs. St. Frances

3 p.m. Cornerstone vs. Crossroads Fellowship

4 p.m. Pickett Rucker vs. Providence

5 p.m. Mt. Juliet Church of God vs. The Journey

6 p.m. Generation Changers vs. First Baptist Watertown