Last year with the help of their big three — Cole Webster, Mason Neighbors and Sam Smith — the Smith Mountain Lake Christian Academy boy’s basketball team shocked the VACA and won their first state championship in program history and the first state championship in school history. Now, one of the big three is looking to continue his basketball career at Patrick Henry Community College.
Smith emerged as a vital option for the Ospreys during his senior season and played a crucial role in their 43-39 victory in the state championship game against Westover Christian Academy after his teammate Mason Neighbors went down early in the first quarter with an ankle injury. After his basketball career ended, Smith felt his playing days were over, and he was ready to move on after graduation. Now, he’s had a change of heart and will be trying out at Patrick Henry Community College.
“My love for basketball was just too strong,” said Smith. “I just couldn’t give it up yet.”
In regard to the big three, Smith was known as the guy who did the dirty work. He scored his points, but he was always the one fighting for rebounds, diving on the floor for loose balls and guarding the team’s best player because of his tenacious motor that never ran out and his vertical jump. Although he might have been undersized, his athletic abilities helped Smith become one of the best post defenders, not just in their conference but the VACA as well.
“Sam is as an athletic kid as I’ve ever coached,” said SMLCA head boys basketball coach Mike Greathouse. “That kid, he can jump out of the gym and may be one of the best rebounders, just going after and getting the ball at all cost. He was just phenomenal at that."
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