First Presbyterian Christian Academy’s boys’ middle school basketball team has fought their way to an 8-3 record so far this season.
Junior-varsity head coach David Linderman said his team — which is made up of four eighth-graders, one seventh-grader and five sixth-graders — have beaten Glenville Middle, Snelson Golden, Habersham Home School, Veritas Home School, Lewis Fraiser twice, Walker Middle and Appling Christian.
The Highlanders won the Thanksgiving Tournament in November at Walker Middle and were the runners-up two weeks ago at the Highlander Middle School Tournament. Their only losses so far have come from Midway Middle School, which beat them twice, and Bethesda Academy.
George Mitchell was cited by Linderman as a Highlander folks should keep their eyes on. Mitchell is averaging 22 points a game, highlighted by a 38-point effort last weekend against Lewis Frasier. Linderman believes Mitchell is the best eighth-grade player in Liberty County.
“He does what I ask him to do, whether it’s scoring, passing, rebound and get steals,” Linderman said. “But more importantly he leads our team on the floor.”
The coach added that he wouldn’t be surprised if Mitchell hit a triple-double in one game.
“He has the points and rebounds, and in some games he gets close in assists and or steals,” Linderman said. “He has multiple defensive schemes thrown against him and keeps putting up numbers.”
Another standout starter for FPCA is sixth-grader Simon Steele. He is averaging 10 points and six assists per game and had a season-high 17 points in the final game of the Highlander Middle School Tournament against Midway Middle.
“More importantly, he is a great defender, and he has a way of getting under your skin with his defense and causing turnovers,” Linderman said. “While other players get the credits for the steals he is the one doing the work to create the turnovers.”
Linderman said his lone seventh-grader, CJ Dargen, has stepped up by providing great defense and rebounding. Dargen is averaging eight points per game.
Rounding out the starting five are Jordan Gilliard, who Linderman is playing in just about every minute of the games and doing well on rebounds, and Isiah Dickey, who has added depth and is playing great defense.
“Simon, CJ and George definitely make my job as a coach easier,” Linderman said. “I think they are the arguably the best players in their respective grades.”
Linderman also said he has great assistant coaches in Reginalde Castille and Antinique Mathis and receives a lot of support from varsity head coach Ernie Walthour.
“He has been my longtime mentor and has been great offering advice at games and at practice,” Linderman said about Walthour. “Reginalde and Antinique have been a huge help in setting up schemes, and it’s always good to have those extra set of eyes in the games to keep me straight and Simon Steele Sr. has helped us by recording our games so we can review them.
Highlander Middle School Team Roster
Simon Steele , Palmer Whitney, Isiah Dickey, CJ Dargen, George Mitchell, Ryan Gerald, Wyatt Summerall, Ausar Gibbs, Jordan Giliard, Dustin Brown, Aston Akins, Aaron Watson, Kyle Osteen