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Warriors push on toward basketball playoffs

Jan. 19—Russell Christian Academy's varsity basketball seasons are nearing their end, and second-year coach EJ Collier is preparing his girls and boys teams to make a final push ahead of the Alabama Christian Athletics Association postseason. RCA's girls team is undefeated in division play at 4-0 with two regular season games remaining, while RCA's boys team is looking to clinch a playoff slot with just three games remaining following a 1-4 start in division play.

Collier said his girls team is doing well for a roster that features several middle school students and just two seniors on the varsity squad. However, this young team is still learning to gel together on the court.

"We're still in the learning stages," Collier said. "We're just young and inexperienced. The more we play, the better we get, so we're getting better every game."

Sophomore Cooper Richardson and eighth-grader Anna Egbert lead RCA on the court, and Collier said the pair have handled business so far this season. Collier said he believes Egbert could become one of the top girls players in the county if she sticks with basketball.

"Our goal is to finish first in district to get the best seeding so we won't have to travel to Northern Alabama to play a playoff game for substate in early February," Collier said. "I'm just trying to get them to get the experience that we can make it to the playoffs, and we'll see from there."

Collier said his boys team has seen a lot of ups and downs this season, in part because of some late-season injuries and a flu that hit the team hard. Similar to the girls team, Collier said his boys team, which features just one senior starter in Matthew Williams, is young.

"I think we will be fine," Collier said. "I think we still have a chance to make it to the playoffs, we've just got to get these guys back in shape and get their wind back."

Collier said he tries to get Andrew Cole as many touches as possible because the sophomore plays hard and can put the ball in the hoop from under the basket. Junior Hunter Steakley adds shooting and defensive talent to the roster, while Williams helps the Warriors put it all together with his court vision and passing.

"The focus is just to get in (to the playoffs)," Collier said. "We've been battling injuries and sickness, so if we can just get in, we will see where we can go from there. Pretty much every team we've played in district, we've been in the game."

Contact Christian Knox at cknox@themeridianstar.com