Fourth Time is a Charm as MHEA 18U Basketball Boys Win Regional Championship

The MHEA Eagles 18U basketball boys’ team are the National Christian Homeschool Basketball Champions (NCHBC) Big South Region champions.

The Memphis-area Homeschool Education Association (MHEA) Eagles 18U basketball boys’ team came home as National Christian Homeschool Basketball Championships (NCHBC) Big South Region champions after defeating the Dallas HSAA Angels with a score of 61-39 at the regional tournament that was held in Dallas, Texas on Saturday, February 24, 2024. The win was not the first or second, but the fourth time the MHEA U18 boys’ team won the regional tournament in consecutive seasons. The MHEA 16U boys’ team also shined winning the region championship for the second time in three seasons.

“MHEA U18 is currently 28-14 this season with just the national tournament remaining. We have played our most competitive schedule ever this season,” said MHEA Eagles Head Varsity Coach Jason Williams. “Keeping up with the teams we’ve played, we’ve played nearly a dozen schools who have won or are still in contention for a state championship, in addition to several prep schools and other homeschools.”

The MHEA program is a part of the NCHBC, which hosts postseason tournaments for homeschool teams since most are not eligible to join state-sanctioned leagues like the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) with other schools. The team has played the Dallas HSAA Angels several times over the past few seasons, including in its opening game at the Nationals in 2023.

Coach Williams is in his third season with MHEA athletics. In his nine years of coaching basketball, he has exclusively coached the varsity (18U) and junior varsity (16U) levels. He was also a coach with the Memphis Nighthawks, another homeschool program, from 2015-2019. The Memphis Nighthawks and MHEA leagues later merged. Along with his years of coaching experience, Williams also credits his assistant coaches, Isaac Guess, Jordan Thomas, and Karnard McCray, for the success of the teams. Williams noted the student athletes are part of a strong group of competitive homeschool basketball teams across the country with skilled players. There are four region tournaments across the country that serve as a warmup or qualifier to the national tournament that will be held this month. The MHEA regional was held in Texas. The other regions include Lawrence, Kansas, Indianapolis, Indiana, and Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

“Homeschool basketball is definitely a bigger platform than most people realize. We are attending the NCHBC National Tournament and there will be over 380 boys’ and girls’ teams in attendance in the 10U, 12U, 14U, 16U, and 18U classes,” said Coach Williams who shared about the number of athletes who receive athletic scholarships to play at the collegiate level. “There have been dozens of student-athletes who have continued basketball in college, including several at a high level. MHEA currently has two alumni playing in college (Justin Morgan at Murray State University and Drew Kyzar at McKendree University). We have had several other players receive interest and offers to play in college that elected not to continue.”

The MHEA U18 has four seniors, Robert Dawkins, Andrew Thomas, Sam Shoemaker, and Hudson Spangenberg. Dawkins and Thomas have received interest from colleges to continue playing but will likely choose not to play. Spangenberg has identified a junior college in the Dallas area that he is very interested in attending to continue playing basketball. Despite their love of basketball, all four seniors plan to attend college regardless of receiving basketball scholarships.

A popular misconception about homeschooling is the lack of competitive sports and the inability for those athletes to earn college scholarships. Coach Williams commented more about those myths.

“There’s definitely plenty of opportunities for homeschool basketball players to continue playing at the college level. It’s no different than anything else where it takes an extraordinary amount of hard work to get that chance, but these tournaments allow others to see the talent that homeschool student-athletes possess,” said Coach Williams.

The MHEA basketball program has been an active and competitive league for several years, even beating some TSSAA teams in West Tennessee. Although winning games is always an exciting experience, Coach Williams shared the true reason the organization exists and the goal of the league.

“First and foremost, our organization exists to glorify Jesus Christ through basketball. Our program has been blessed to win at a high level for several years now, but the special thing about MHEA is that I believe our kids have represented the Lord in their efforts,” said Coach Williams. “It’s taken a lot of hard work, faith, and commitment to get to this point, but none of it is possible without their parents instilling in them those characteristics.”

The MHEA boys’ basketball league will travel to the NCHBC National Tournament that will be held in Springfield, Missouri Sunday through Thursday, March 10-14, 2024. You may watch the tournament and cheer them on. Go MHEA Eagles!

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