Mens Basketball

Top 10 Moments Of The 2023-2024 Season

Hot Springs, Ark.

With the 2023-2024 regular season coming to a close and post season right around the corner, we wanted to take some time to look back and highlight some of the great moments from this season. The Tigers finished the year with an overall record of 14-10, and finished the regular season with an impressive 12-3 record against the NCCAA. This season has been nothing short of an incredible journey, filled with big wins, island hopping, some major individual achievements, and hopefully soon a banner and some hardware. Let's dive in to the Top 10 Moments of 2023-2024!

1. 2-0 In Champion Classic - For the first time since the inception of the Champion Classic, the Tigers started the year off with 2 victories. In the Inaugural season of the Champion Classic (2021), the Tigers would end up splitting their two games, losing to NCCAA National Tournament Ecclesia College, and defeating NCCAA National Champion Campbellsville Harrodsburg University in an incredible game. In year 2 (2022) of the Classic, the Tigers would again split, losing to Arkansas Baptist on a buzzer beater, and defeating Ecclesia College in a classic overtime matchup in front of a max capacity, standing room only crowd. In year 3, the Tigers finally broke through, defeating Ecclesia College on a last second steal by Sophomore Damian Bohlman, and defeated NAIA Bacone College behind a great individual performance from AJ Williams. AJ would go on to earn National Player Of The Week, averaging 27, 6, and 6 in 2 wins. The Classic has been a great way to kick the season off, playing in the best atmosphere in the NCCAA.

2. Bank Of OZK Arena Game - One of the best venues Champion Christian got to compete in all year just so happened to be in a home game this year. In an incredible fundraising event, Champion Christian College hosted an all day basketball event in Downtown Hot Springs Convention Center. High school games, starting at 11, went all day, and the night cap was the Champion Christian College Tigers facing off against Shorter College out of Little Rock, AR. The game was spectacular, with the Tigers pulling out a 97-82 win. It was also Senior Jamal Clark's first game back, and he went off in front of the hometown crowd scoring 24 points and added 8 rebounds in the win. The fundraiser was a huge success, with silent auctions, halftime games and raffles, and sponsorship opportunities all going towards improving the sports department at Champion.

3. Living Up To The Title "Student Athlete" - One of the major areas of growth in the past 4 seasons at Champion has been done not on the court, but in the classroom. Each year the program continues to hit new heights when it comes to classroom success, and this year continued in that trend. In the first semester, the Tigers had a cumulative Grade Point Average of 3.25! A program with 27 student athletes, reaching a GPA that high is a major success. The NCCAA recognizes All Academic Teams, requiring a cumulative 3.4 GPA, and the Tigers will be striving towards being on that list next season!

4. Tigers Visit The US Virgin Islands - In the previous years as head coach, Mo Capaci has made it a priority to do it big and go on a trip with the team. It started last season, as the team visited Hawaii. This year, the team was blessed to get the opportunity to go to thee US Virgin Islands. The team stayed on a beautiful island right on the beach, swam with sea turtles, took a ferry to visit near by islands, and really just got to spend time in friendship and fellowship with their teammates. Although the team didn't get the results they wanted on the court, the memories on the Island will last a lifetime. We also wanted to take the time and say THANK YOU to everyone who donated and helped make this dream a reality for the team. Its not easy, and the support from family, friends, and faculty make it possible and we are forever grateful and blessed for your support. THANK YOU!

5. Double Overtime Showdown With Familiar Foe - Mo Capaci and the Champion Christian Tigers have never shied away from playing anyone, willing to travel anywhere and play. So when Campbellsville Harrodsburg University invited them to come to their classic over the summer, the Tigers looked at the map and said "Let's Go". The Tigers traveled a total of 29 hours in 4 days to compete against 3rd place NCCAA D1 National Tournament Asbury University, and to play NCCAA D2 Campbellsville Harrodsburg University who has been a National Tournament team the past 3 years, winning 1 Championship. In night 1 vs #10th Ranked Asbury, The Tigers led for 34 minutes of the game, never in doubt. The guard trio of AJ Williams, Jamal Clark, and KJ Younge lead the team, scoring 24, 16, and 18, respectively. On night 2, Champion faced off against familiar foe CHU, Ranked #3. In a back in forth match up, 40 minutes wasn't enough, and the game went into overtime. The Tigers quickly fell behind, down 7 with just 2:30 left in the game. But there was no quit in the team, as the Tigers clawed back some how to force a second overtime. In the second overtime, Champion found a way to pull out the win, scoring 11 and holding CHU to only 1 made shot, getting the 102-95 win. AJ Williams and Jamal Clark both played 49 of the 50 total minutes, combining for 54 points and 20 rebounds, but the clutch play of their 5th year senior teammate Xavier Hall that stood out, making some huge buckets and getting some monumental stops down the stretch. 

6. Developmental Team Continues to Shine - In year 2 for the developmental program, the Tigers had some serious bright spots, and not just on the developmental team. In a middle of November Varsity game with multiple big injuries, the Tigers ended up falling short against NAIA Baptist Bible College. It doesn't seem like a big deal, but looking at it with a closer lens, you can see the growth and improvement of the developmental team. In the game, 6 developmental players combined for 65% of the teams total scoring. It is very encouraging to see players stick with it and work on their game, and this was a prime example of that. The Developmental team also hosted the 1st ever Developmental End of Season Tournament. In a round robin style tournament, 3 JV teams from Arkansas and 1 from Louisiana competed to see who would be crowned as Champions. When all the dust was settled, Champion Christian won the tournament in dominating fashion, going 3-1 and outscoring opponents by nearly 50. A big win for the program, and a tournament Champion plans to grow to 8 teams next season!

7. Individual Success for 5th Year Seniors - AJ Williams, Xavier Hall, and Jamal Clark. The 3 graduating seniors. All coming from different backgrounds, working together for the team. This might not be considered a "moment" during the season, but its only right to congratulate and highlight them on their incredible college careers. AJ Williams has been a Tiger for 5 years. Through 3 different Head Coaches and through thick and thin, AJ stuck it out to build his legacy here at Champion. It wasn't always easy, but theres no denying AJ has built a resume to put himself in the conversation as an All Time Great at Champion. 1,500 points, Regional Player of the Year, 1st Team All American, leading Champion to its first ever NCCAA National Tournament appearance, and top 3 in assists in the country the past two seasons, AJ has proved time and time again how great he is. Xavier Hall, the most exciting player in the country, is also graduating this year and is moving on from Champion. Xavier Hall has spent his whole college career in Arkansas, but found a home at Champion, and Champion Christian are all grateful for it. A career 13 PPG, 5 RPG player for the Tigers, receiving 2nd Team All Region and possibly 1st Team this year, Xavier has stepped up in some of the biggest moments and made plays the Tigers desperately needed. Xavier Hall is the most athletic player in the country, but proved he's more than just that, shooting 45% from the field and 37% for 3 this year. Last but not least, Jamal Clark is graduating and moving on to the next phase of his life. Although only spending 1 year with Champion, Jamal has done some remarkable things with the Tigers. Leading the Team in scoring, rebounds, and steals this year, Jamal showed time and time again what effort and determination can amount to. Jamal has won a National Championship with last year with Kansas Christian, was voted 1st team All Region, scored over 1,500 points in his college career, and may be having the best season of his career as a Tiger. The program are so thankful Jamal chose Champion to play his last year of college basketball and graduate from. 

8. Gym Improvements - A big moment this season for the Men's Basketball program, as well as all sports program, is the addition of heating and air conditioning at the Champion Community Center. Each year since being granted the old Boys and Girls Club of Hot Springs, Champion has made improvements to the facilities. Whether its adding new locker rooms, new wood floors, or indoor batting cages, Champion continues to create the best available sports complex for its athletes. This year, the College is making the biggest financial improvement to date, putting over 300,000 dollars into adding heating and air, as well as improving the bathroom set up in the gym. This will greatly improve the athlete and spectator experience, and the sports programs are grateful for the board and donors making this dream a reality.

9. Highest Ranking In NCCAA Era - The Tigers have been no stranger to being ranked, as they have been in the top 10 all season in the coaches poll. In addition to that, The Tigers are sitting at 5th in the Power Ratings, which is a system used to decide which teams go to the National Tournament based on a number of statistical variables. The Tigers were also ranked as #2 in the country this season, which is the highest the ranking in the NCCAA Era. While regular season rankings mean nothing in post season, it still is fun to see the team receiving the recognition from the other coaches across the country. 

10. Ending The Season On a High Note - The first weekend in February, The Tigers found themselves in a situation they haven't been in since the COVID season in 2020. The Tigers were below .500 in Region play. It was a breaking point. Sitting at 3-4 with only 4 Regional games remaining, the team could have easily booked it in and got ready for the next season. But that's not what Champions do. Champions get to work. Since February 6th, the Tigers are 5-0, winning each game by an average of 24 points, and went from the 5th seed in the Southwest Region to the 2nd seed. The Tigers are playing their best basketball at the right time and it is fueled by the competitive will to win, and the brotherhood they built battling adversity all year. 

Coach Mo had a vision for the team and the culture and is hitting all the boxes as far as success could be measured. Although Post Season success is the measuring bar for some, let's give the Tigers Men's Basketball team the love and recognition they deserve for an incredible regular season.

Next up for the Tigers is the Southwest Regional Tournament in Joplin, MO. Stay tuned for more information on the tournament here on our website or on our social media!