In just two seasons the Victory Christian Academy Patriots are already taking their basketball program to new heights.
The seventh and eighth grade boys and girls teams captivated the area on their run to the postseason.
The two teams ended their seasons at the regional tournament in Euless earlier this week, after each squad just lost one non-district game and went undefeated through district play.
After defeating Saint Paul Prep 29-17, the girls wrapped up their season with a third-place finish at regionals, while a heartbreaking 28-27 overtime loss to Argyle Christian Academy gave the boys fourth.
“We are all very pleased with the success of the program and both the girls and boys winning district championships,” Patriot head coach Paul Stein said. “It just created an aura of excitement for our entire school.”
The Patriots compete in the Christian School Athletic Fellowship that is composed of four districts. The top two finishers in league play then advance to the regional tournament.
Stein, who coached the Bridgeport girls for 25 years before retiring several years ago, was chosen to lead the Patriots in their first year of competitive basketball.
His wife, also a retired public-school teacher, was already teaching at Victory Christian, so he was approached by Principal Scott Stanford.
Stein had coached Stanford’s wife in high school, so he was able to coax Stein back into the gym.
“Out of ignorance I let Mr. Stanford talk me into doing this,” Stein said with a laugh.
One of the first things the new coach and the administration had to do was find a place to practice and play.
“It turned out to be a difficult situation,” Stein said. “We tried different situations to try to rent gyms for practice and games.”
They were finally able to work out a deal to practice at the old Firehouse Gym in Decatur, and play their home games at the Chico City Gym, which is the old high school gym that the city now owns.
Although it was not the most ideal situation, Stein says playing in Chico still gave the kids a home court atmosphere.
“It was a blessing,” Stein said. “We would have had to play every game out of town if we wouldn’t have had it.”
Practicing and playing in different locations will only be a short-term problem. The school, which is supported by the Victory Family Church, is in the process of getting a new school built next to the church on U.S. 380 in Decatur.
Stein says the kids deserve all the credit for the season’s success.
“The kids had phenomenal heart and a great work attitude,” he said. “They did everything that we expected them to do. It was a learning process, and they came through.”