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Bulldogs build year-round team

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They follow runner-up finish with 10-2 start

By Sports Postings

By Frank Shanly

Sentinel-News Correspondent

The Cornerstone Christian Academy Bulldogs are making some noise in the Kentucky Christian Athletic Association.

Last season, the academy's varsity team was runner-up in the KCAA state tournament, finishing their season with a 26-2 record, and this year’s edition of the Bulldogs is building on that success.

Despite having played 10 of their 12 games so far on the road, the Bulldogs are 10-2 for the season, and for third-year coach Jason Bradshaw, this marks an impressive turnaround in fortunes for the program.

“The season before I got here, the basketball team only won one game and lost twenty-two,” Bradshaw recalled. “My first year here we won eleven games, last year we won twenty-six games, and we were runner-up in the state tournament for KCAA. We lost the championship game. Our JV team last year won the state tournament with a record of twenty-three and one."

Bradshaw has a total of just 12 students on his squad to cover both varsity and JV – that includes one eighth-grader – and apart from the students who aren't allowed to play down at JV, they all play both grades.

“For a few of them, this is their first year ever playing basketball, so I'm very limited in numbers, but the good thing is, the few that want to become really good basketball players do," Bradshaw said. "We have a very, very strict but also productive off-season. We do a lot of player development.”

There are less restrictions in the KCAA than public schools face in terms of when coaches can and cannot work with their students, and Bradshaw, and his players are making the most of this. While some members of his team also play soccer for the academy – and therefore aren't able to devote quite so much time to their hoops development during soccer season – Bradshaw's Bulldogs are putting in a lot of time, almost year-round, to improve their basketball skills.

“The players, after one year, there's just a huge difference in their development because of our off-season,” Bradshaw said. “We start in March. We usually take two weeks off after the state championship, or the last game of the season, whichever one it is. I let the kids kind of relax and think about their season, and then we got right at it. We go year-round.

“In the summer time we usually go about three hours a day. About an hour and twenty minutes of strength and weight training and then [we] let them take a break and get a snack, and then we do an hour and twenty minutes of personal development of their skills.

“So we really develop players. That's our strength.”

Bradshaw is putting a lot of effort into the playing skills of his players, but he said this isn't the only important part of his program.

“My students will play with good character first, and everybody should know that,” Bradshaw said. “We'll play with good character. We'd better play harder, but we'll do it with a good attitude. Our philosophy is that we're going to play harder than you, but we'll play with a good attitude while we're doing it.

“When you play harder, you're going to win more games. And my guys have really excelled at that. My guys play with character, and I've had compliments from other teams about that. We respect our opponents.”

Although this season has seen his squad on the road for most of its games, Coach Bradshaw is looking forward to a series of home games in January and early February, and in particular, the games starting Jan. 29.

“'That will be our toughest stretch,” he said. "Between January twenty-ninth and February second, us and the teams we play are the top four teams in the state. So it's going to be tough. It will be a good test for us.”

Bradshaw said he hopes that there will be a lot of hometown support for his team at those games.

“We're building [our support base] this season,” he said. “Our student and fan section this year will probably be the best it's been in a long time. Good home crowds, loud home crowds. We'll do some kind of white-outs. We've got some Bulldogs basketball white T-shirts for the fans. So we'll white out a big section and have a ‘Dog-pound area’ for rowdier fans to get loud.”

Bradshaw has high hopes for the future of the basketball program at Cornerstone, which he is trying to base on hard work, dedicated players and a good sporting character.

“For a player who wants to become a really good basketball player, that's what it really takes,” Bradshaw said. “You've got to be working on your skill level three hundred forty days out of three hundred sixty-five. You can't take a lot of days off and hope to be able to compete with the best players, because they're going to be doing it [the work].”

 

Cornerstone’s roster

Josh Woodward, senior

Jerrit Brooks, junior

Ben McKinney, junior  

Nate Oates, junior

Jacob Tipton, junior  

Samuel Genuis, sophomore  

Taylor Hamblin, sophomore  

Chris Kennedy, sophomore  

Trevor Watkins, sophomore  

Tanner May, freshman

Michael Woodward, 8th grade