After spending the last decade at the collegiate level, there has been a change of pace for first-year Bethlehem Christian Academy head boys’ basketball coach Kevin Hall. And as he begins a fresh start, he’s inheriting a young team with plenty of new faces who will be looking to replace the production of seven graduated seniors from last year’s squad that reached the GISA Class AAA quarterfinals.
Hall, who was most recently head coach of the men’s team at Toccoa Falls College, also has made stops at Goshen College in Indiana, Johnson University in Tennessee, Maryville College in Tennessee and Crossroads College in Minnesota. He had moved his family to Florida when the BCA job came open earlier this year, and he decided to take that opportunity instead and move his family back to Georgia.
“I’ve got five kids and we wanted a chance to get them all under one roof, and everything about BCA has been great,” said Hall, who takes over the program for William Steele and is its third head coach in three seasons. “I’m looking forward to working with kids at this level. It gives you a little more time freedom when you’re not out on the road having to recruit, and it’s a shorter season. It’s a pleasure to be here.”
The Knights’ originally-scheduled season-opener against Notre Dame Academy on Nov. 20 was scrapped due to COVID-19 issues at Notre Dame, and the Knights were scheduled to kick off the 2020-21 season Tuesday, Dec. 1, at home against Tallulah Falls. In many ways, Hall’s team is getting thrown right into the fire as the Knights have only been working with a handful of players until last week, when an influx of football players joined practice. Senior guard-forward Mason Massengale, who transferred back into BCA this year, and senior guard Drew Stiles have been with the Knights for the duration of preseason practice and will be two primary players Hall will be counting on to lead the team. Seniors Simon Steele and Ethan Guthas saw time off the bench last season, while junior transfer Luke Sheats played at Winder-Barrow last winter.
“We’ve still got a lot of guys I haven’t had a chance to fully evaluate, so I’m sure I’ll feel a little more underprepared going into that first game or two,” Hall said. “I know we’ll be a small team and may not be overly athletic, but I hope those guys will be like the ones I’ve been working with and be very hungry and coachable.
“I think we can play fast and so we’re going to be focusing on playing together, driving and using our speed to get to the basket and create scoring chances. We’ll have some guys who are going to be a little behind on what we’re installing and integrating, but I think the main thing early on is getting how they play chemistry-wise.”
On top of waiting to get his whole team together at once, Hall is also adjusting to not having as much readily-available information on opponents as he might typically in college. The Knights will compete in the five-team Region 4-AAA against John Milledge Academy, Westfield School (Perry), Westminster School (Augusta) and Young Americans Christian School (Conyers) and are currently scheduled to play seven games before their first region outing Jan. 12 at Westfield.
“The tough part is I don’t really know how to compare our team to others right now,” Hall said. “But (regardless of the opponent), our philosophy is going to be trying to teach the guys how to play fundamentally sound, teach them how to move around without the ball and run a system that gives them a lot of freedom but also gives us the ability to get in sets where we can take advantage of certain matchups. We’ll try to create some open lanes to take advantage of our guys’ skillsets, and hopefully that leads to some success.
“I know there’s a transition that comes with another new head coach, but I think there’s some excitement there we can use as positive momentum. The newness has created some energy, and hopefully that starts us on track for building a strong program.”