Bob Jones University hosted 16 Christian high school teams to compete in its 50th annual Invitational Basketball Tournament on Jan. 26-28.
BJU welcomed eight girls’ teams and eight boys’ teams from around the country to thetournament to show them the University. Jonny Gamet, the assistant athletic director for communications and marketing, said the basketball tournament gave a lot of high schoolers a chance to see what BJU is all about.
“[The purpose of the tournament] is … exposing [high school students] to who Bob Jones is as a university and what we stand for.” He said that the tournament presented high schoolers with an opportunity to further their education and come to a place that Christian school students would want to come to.
The tournament’s first day began with four girls’ and four boys’ games. The day featured flashy passes, emphatic blocked shots and exciting dunks. Bruins basketball players watched from the sidelines. Some of them mentioned that they were potentially watching future teammates. Both the men’s and women’s Bruins teams hosted a meet-and-greet, inviting the high school players to watch their practices.
Chapman Harwood, a former Bruins player, came to watch the tournament along with some current Bruins players. He reflected on his time as a Bruin watching the high school tournaments. “It’s fun to have kids watching you, and hopefully it propels you to actually be a good basketball player and good off the court,” Harwood said. He said being a good example is the priority of a BJU athlete.
The four winners’ bracket games provided the highlights for the second day. Bob Jones Academy vs. Shining Light Christian Academy drew the biggest crowd of the day. The back-and-forth game exceeded all expectations of many spectators. Big shots, big plays and big players forced this game into an overtime thriller. Shining Light won the game, but their coach, Kaleb Money, said BJA is a really great team who played an incredible game.
By the third day, the best teams filled the bracket for the championship games. The girls’ championship featured Bob Jones Academy and the Asheville Trailblazers. Sami Mirach, a sophomore at Asheville, dominated their previous two games by rebounding missed shots whenever she could. But Bob Jones Academy’s senior duo, Ashlyn Schmidt and Abby Arrowood, led their team to victory while containing the young talent from Asheville.
In recognition of their excellent tournament performances, Arrowood was named to the All-Tournament First Team, and Schmidt was awarded Tournament Most Valuable Player.
The boys’ championship game featured Shining Light Christian Academy and Life Christian Academy. The speed and skill of both teams were undeniable. Many in the crowdwondered whose swift game plan would come out on top. Life’s forward, Victor Otero, a junior at Life Christian Academy, did all he could to help lead his team to victory over Shining Light, but the speed and aggression of Shining Light prevailed. Despite his team’s loss, Otero was still named to the All-Tournament First Team.
Shining Light triumphed through the leadership of junior star, Jordan Pyke. His game-changing plays and show-stopping dunks compelled his team to show extra aggression. After being awarded Tournament Most Valuable Player, Pyke gave credit to his teammates for their tournament success.
“I like to give a lot of the credit to my team,” Pyke said. “We take ownership as a team, and there is no individual here. We do everything together. Everything is us.”
Money said that Pyke has given all his tournament MVP awards away to different teammates. He said Pyke’s goal is to go in and win, and they accomplished that goal.
Jonny Gamet said BJU looks forward to hosting this event every year to encourage high school students to do right as much as they can and give advice to all the students that came to play in the tournament.
“So many people get bogged down with ‘I want to play college basketball. I want to play at the highest level possible,’ and they don’t think about life after sports,” Gamet said. “Come to a place like Bob Jones where … you’re going to get ingrained in a biblical worldview, so that wherever God leads you … you’re going to be able to be equipped to do that for His glory.”