The Atlantic Christian School’s boys baskteball team capped off its championship-winning season in the Tri-State Christian Athletic Conference (TSCAC) with additional success on March 7, winning first place in Division 4B at the National Christian School Athletic Association’s national tournament in Ohio. The tournament features Christian high school teams from across the U.S. who are the best in their regions, and the ACS Cougars finished 17th overall out of the 52 teams that competed.
A key ingredient to the team’s outstanding season has been the chemistry among the players, according to Atlantic Christian Athletic Director Pam Hitchner, and three starters and TSCAC All-Stars have played decisive, leading roles — Ben Noble, of Egg Harbor Township, and Dan Roland and Landon Shivers, of Somers Point.
These players first formed a close bond not on the basketball court, but working together during the summer at Prep’s Pizza and Dairy Bar on the Ocean City Boardwalk.
“When we met two years ago, we never thought we would all be playing together on the same basketball team, but it’s been a great experience,” said Shivers, a 6-foot-8 junior who plays center.
The three teammates have become close friends on and off the court, getting together for sleepovers, playing video games, watching movies, and, of course, shooting some hoops. They are also involved at church and in Christian ministries. Shivers volunteers in the summer as a surf instructor with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes on the Ocean City beach. Noble serves in the nursery on Sunday mornings at Coastal Christian Church in Ocean City, where he has fun helping with the 2- and 3-year-olds. Roland worships at Mission Point in Somers Point and is involved with several church youth groups.
Shivers reached a significant milestone this season, becoming just the 12th ACS player in to pull down 500 rebounds. Shivers’ first sport as a child was soccer, but as his height began to soar in middle school he switched to basketball and has never looked back. Shivers has one more year of high school ball and then hopes to play at the college level.
Noble, a 17-year-old senior, has been the team’s playmaker, alternating between shooting guard and point guard since making the varsity team in his freshman year. This season, he averaged 16 points, four assists, and three steals per game. He sank his 1,000th point in late January, becoming just the eighth boy in school history to reach that significant milestone. At nationals, Ben scored 34 points and 13 assists over three tough matches.
“As a senior, it was great to go out with a win for our school at nationals,” Noble said. “What I’ll miss the most about ACS and our team is that we’re like a family. I definitely plan to stay in touch with Landon and Dan. Our friendship will go the distance.”
While his outstanding skills on the basketball court have led to winning ACS teams, Ben’s favorite sport is soccer, which he started playing at the age of 6. Ben will be attending Cairn University in the fall and has been invited to play on Cairn’s men’s soccer team.
Roland, an 18-year-old senior, lives just a block away from Shivers and is thankful for the strong friendships that he has made with his teammates.
“We are a close-knit team and we just enjoy hanging out together,” Roland said.
After transferring to ACS from Mainland High School in his sophomore year, Roland established himself as a power forward, the team’s third-leading scorer, and a force to be reckoned with on the boards. In mid-February, Roland joined Shivers in the ACS scorebooks as the 13th player to reach the 500-rebound milestone. This season alone he pulled down 150 rebounds and at nationals he had 15 rebounds. Like Noble, basketball is not Roland’s favorite sport. He enjoys baseball and has played first base on a Babe Ruth Somers Point team, at Mainland High School, and on the ACS team that has won four consecutive TSCAC championships. He is currently looking at several colleges in the region and would enjoy the opportunity to play baseball at the college level.
“This was a very memorable season for our varsity boys’ basketball team and we are grateful to Ben, Dan, and Landon for the character and leadership they displayed that was the secret sauce to our success,” Hitchner said.