The Gators will host Military Appreciation Day at the first home game Nov. 16.
Chris Moore, in his second year as the men’s basketball coach at Thomas Nelson, has a problem many coaches would like to have.
“I couldn’t even sit here and tell you who is going to be my starting five right now,” he said. “That’s a good sign because the guys are actually getting after it. They’re fighting for spots.”
The team, which opens the season Nov. 7 against Mid Atlantic Christian’s JV team in Elizabeth City, N.C., has been practicing since late September. Moore’s roster consists of 13 players, all of whom he said can produce.
“We’re going to be pretty good this year,” Moore said. “I’m excited about it.”
One reason for the optimism is a trio of returning players, led by last year’s leading scorer, Vincent Collins, a 6-foot-2 guard who averaged 18 points a year ago.
“He can shoot the lights out,” Moore said.
The newcomers are led by Demariyea Sills (Woodside and Gloucester), Josh Moore (Grafton), Maurice Eley (Woodside High School) and Jamal Everett (Phoebus). He also had three transfers in Noah Purnell (Regent), Hunter Ladler (Mount Olive) and Hunter Mitchell (Mid Atlantic Christian).
“I think we’re pretty athletic so defensively, we’re looking really good,” Moore said. “I think we are going to be very exciting because we’re going to play fast again.”
Their schedule features 25 games, 12 of which are at home (Bethel High School). According to Moore, they will be tested right away by opening with three road games in eight days.
“It’s going to be a good test for us those first three games,” he said. “I’m excited about the schedule.”
Among the highlights are a pair of games against the Apprentice School, the first one in early December and the other in the middle of January as part of the MLK Classic. The team’s first home game is Nov. 16 against Stillwater Christian Academy.
“We have a pretty strong schedule from start to finish,” Moore said.
That first home game is Military Appreciation Day, with all military being admitted for free and then honored at halftime. At all home games, the Heritage High School band will be performing. There also is a high school day (free admission with student ID), a community day (discounted admission with donation of unwrapped toy or canned goods) and a day to honor alums.
“We have some exciting things going on with the community,” Moore said.
Nov. 7: at Mid Atlantic Christian JV
Nov. 12: at Hartford Community College
Nov. 14: at Northern Virginia Community College
Nov. 16: vs. Stillwater Christian Academy
Nov. 17: vs. Bryant & Stratton JV
Nov. 22: at College of Southern Maryland
Nov. 24: vs. Chowan JV
Dec. 8: at Apprentice School
Dec. 14: vs. Johnson Faith Athletics College
Dec. 15: vs. Fredericks Community College
Dec. 21: vs. Central International College
Jan. 4: vs, Dabney Lancaster Community College
Jan. 11: at Johnson Faith Athletics College
Jan. 18-19: MLK Tournament vs. Apprentice School
Jan. 22: at Howard Community College
Jan. 25: vs. Southside Community College
Jan. 26: at Bryant & Stratton JV
Feb. 1: at Dabney Lancaster Community College
Feb. 8: vs. Northern Virginia Community College
Feb. 9: vs. Hartford Community College
Feb. 15: at Southside Community College
Feb. 16: vs. College of Southern Maryland
Feb. 23: vs. Carolina Christian College
Feb. 29: at Stillwater Christian Academy
Home games take place at Bethel High School, 1067 Big Bethel Rd. in Hampton. Admission is $2 Thomas Nelson students with ID; $5 faculty and staff with ID, $8 general admission; $3 children ages 7-13; and free for children under 6.