16 teams take part in basketball camp

16 teams take part in basketball camp


Sixteen high school teams from across the state got the chance to compete in a basketball camp at Neshoba Central last week during a three-day event.

The event was hosted by The Church at the Arc. Proceeds from the camp’s entry fee and lunch were given to the church’s Strong Towers Recovery Ministry, which helps individuals struggling with addiction.

The ministry aims to achieve sobriety by sponsoring them through a six-month live-in faith-based recovery program and supporting their reintegration after graduation. 

“Our church has a vision to help give them a foundation to rebuild their lives so they don’t go back. It’s pretty awesome,” said Jay Clark, the pastor.

Many members of Strong Towers also volunteered at the basketball camp, performing tasks such as running the clocks, handling concessions, and more.

Discussions for the camp began last year between Neshoba Central Head Coach Justin Childs, Church at the Arc founder Philip Prince, and a network of others. This sparked the idea to bring together teams from across the state to establish the best basketball camp in Mississippi.

Childs, assistant coach C.J. Ruffin, and Leake Academy Head Coach Jason Morgan played pivotal roles in the camp, organizing the schedules and ensuring everything ran smoothly.

“We want to bring kids here to Philadelphia, have some great competition, and use the platform of basketball to share the gospel and point people to Jesus Christ,” Childs said.

The schools that participated this year were Neshoba Central, Leake Academy, Choctaw Central, West Lauderdale, West Point, Heritage Academy, Starkville Academy, Newton County, Oak Hill, Choctaw County, Pillow Academy, Delta Streets, Lamar School, Houston, East Rankin, and Loyd Star.

Most schools brought multiple teams, resulting in a total of 26 teams, which included varsity, junior varsity, and freshmen players. Each team played four 22-minute games daily, culminating in a seeded tournament and a camp championship. 

Over the three-day camp, a total of 128 games were played.

Leake Academy won the gold bracket, while Neshoba Central’s second team won the silver bracket. Case Brooks of Houston won the 3-point contest, and Caleb Cunningham of Choctaw County, a 5-star recruit, won the dunking contest.

Each day at lunch, a player clinic was held with Coach Luther Riley, a six-time Mississippi State champion, as coaches and players were treated to steaks, hamburgers, and gumbo.

Many teams also used the experience as a team retreat, staying overnight in hotels. MBCI Chief Cyrus Ben and the Pearl River Resort also gave every camper a Geyser Falls Water Park pass and food voucher.

“Camp was great, ran smooth all three days and the guys were having a blast at the water park. Expect us back next summer,” said Coach Jacob Ginn of Lamar School.

Childs said using the game of basketball as a fishing net to pull in people of all races, all walks of life, and backgrounds and show them the love of Christ makes this camp unique for him and the whole area.

“I think Philadelphia can be the soul of basketball if we can get people here to assemble at the center of the state to make the state better,” Prince said. “I think Mississippi is one of the best-kept secrets. We got some of the best talent in the world.”

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