CLARKTON – A pre-season game for the Jesus Christ Shadow Pro-players Christian League was played in the School of Discovery gym Saturday, but the message and opportunities that the event’s organizers brought to the court were more important than the final score.
“This league helps our young men change their lives,” said Mrs. Mildred Jackson, one of the organizers. “It doesn’t matter if they have a record. They get a second chance at life and to have a closer relationship with the Lord.”
The league is part of the Jesus Christ Institutional Holiness Church Assemblies Samaritans Wilderness Outreach ministry. There are 41 non-denominational churches who are involved with the league.
According to Pastor Florance McKoy, the league’s president, the players are required to be in church every week and must pass a drug test. They are also tested for blood pressure and sugar levels.
The league has 33 teams in 33 states and has a pre-season schedule of 59 games that will run through February. In March the league’s regular season schedule of 81 games will begin, and the players will be under contract and will be paid. Players range from 18-40 years old.
Pastor McKoy who serves on an Advisory Committee for President Donald Trump said, “We are trying to help young men in pre-dominately minority communities. Keep them out of jail and provide opportunities for them and their families. Most of these young men are fathers, too.”
“We want to give them opportunities for employment and help with their education,” said Pastor McKoy. “We want to provide training and help them develop a trade for when their basketball playing days are over.”
The Samaritans Wilderness Outreach ministries also include an economic development system and a Christian education system.
Scottie Hazel who officiated Saturday’s game said, “It gives these guys something to do to stay off the streets. What could be better than that?”
The South Carolina Ambassadors defeated the North Carolina Disciples in Saturday’s game. Playing for South Carolina were former East Bladen stars Quan Jones, Saquan Johnson and Montrell Rogers. Leading the North Carolina team was former West Bladen stand-out Matt McCall.
Jones poured in 20 points to lead all scorers for the South Carolina team that raced to a 25-10 lead en route to a 68-42 victory. The Ambassadors connected on nine 3-point shots in the game. Johnson finished with 8 points, and Rogers added 6.
McCall led the North Carolina scoring with 14 points.
A second pre-season game is scheduled for January 12th between North Carolina and Georgia.