Patriots ready for national tournament

Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy's Milos Vasilic shoots over Calvary's Coleman Becker during their game Friday night in Stephens City. The Patriots will play in the NACA tournament today in Dayton, Tennessee. Rich Cooley/Daily

STEPHENS CITY – Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy’s boys basketball team will try to bring home a national title this week.

The Patriots will play in the National Association of Christian Athletics tournament in Dayton, Tennessee, today. The tournament lasts through Saturday.

SVCA coach Philip Combs said he wasn’t sure what to expect from the tournament, but he knows they will have to play well.

“Everybody down there knows this is it,” Combs said of how competitive it will be. “This is their last couple games. They got to finish out strong.”

The Patriots (27-7) have had a very good year. They have a lot of guards, but also have some size with three 6-foot-5 players, all of whom can handle the ball and get up and down the floor.

Twin sophomore guards Eric and Michael Truong have led the Patriots this season. Eric Truong is averaging 20.2 points per game, while Michael is averaging 19.7.

Michael Truong also leads the team with 4.6 assists and 2.7 steals per game.

Eldar Hotic, a 6-foot-5 center averages 11.8 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. Hotic missed Friday’s 80-60 win over Calvary Temple due to an ankle injury, but Combs said he was hopeful he will be able to play in this week’s tournament.

Marko Djuric and Milos Vasilic, both 6-foot-5, are averaging 8.7 and 7.0 points per game respectively.

One thing that could help the Patriots this week is they have played a tough schedule, including West Virginia powerhouses Musselman and Martinsburg.

“I don’t see some of the teams down there being any better than some of the teams we’ve played and been in the game with,” Combs said. “Even some of the losses like Mercersburg (Pennsylvania) Martinsburg and Musselman and Saint John Paul the Great, even at that level, there’s not going to be teams down there like that. If we play our game, I think we can compete.”

The Patriots concluded their regular season on Friday with a win against Calvary Temple, and Combs said the Patriots need to play better if they want to compete in this week’s tournament.

“There’s some things that fundamentally we do wrong that I still want us to sharpen before we get to nationals,” Combs said. “Teams that have a little bit more talent all around, those little mistakes they take advantage of. You can’t miss that back door guy. You can’t not get back on defense a couple possessions, because those two possessions could cost you the game.”

Combs said the defensive side of the ball is where he wants to see his team improve the most this week.

“Defense is where you win the game,” Combs said. “We’ve got to clean some stuff up on the defensive end.”

Even though they’re not sure what to expect, the players are excited about the tournament and their chances.

“We have a good team, a lot of athleticism, a lot of talent,” Djuric said. “… There will be good teams there, and we hope we’re going to win.”

“If we play as a team we should do well,” Michael Truong said. “We should be able to win some games and hopefully win the whole thing.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com