Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009 | 11:59 p.m.
Green Valley Christian School's boys basketball players have grown accustom to an early wake-up call.
The team typically takes the court at 7 a.m. for its daily practices at the Donald W. Reynolds Boys & Girls Club east of Eastern Avenue on Robindale Road.
They get out just in time to carpool to their campus at 711 N. Valle Verde Drive and make their first class at 8:50 a.m.
It's not always the most convenient time for the nine-man squad, which began its first season as a high school team last month, but it is a sacrifice they are willing to make until the construction of their home gym is complete.
"We actually like the morning because no one is there except us," Green Valley Christian School coach Brad Bristol said. "We go where we can go and when we can go. You have to be willing work around other people's schedules to get what you can."
Green Valley Christian School, which previously only taught preschool through junior high, opened to high school students in 2006.
Bristol accepted the athletic director position in 2007 and his first line of business was to form the basketball team. In a school with only eight boys in the high school grades, his challenge was to get everyone involved.
Luckily, most of them shared his enthusiasm.
"When you talk about schools you think about their sports," sophomore Brandon Webster said. "We don't want to be known as the school that doesn't have sports because we have good athletes."
The team competes in the Tri-State Athletic Conference, an organization of small private schools, and plays a junior varsity schedule against 1A and 2A classification schools from the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association.
At 6-6 overall, the team is happy with its progress.
"We only started with five players, so the first practice was difficult," freshman Matt Lychock said. "We have gotten a lot better with our plays. We're more coordinated and passing the ball better. Our coach is pretty tough and we have learned to stay committed."
To fill his roster, Bristol has allowed two eighth graders to play on the team.
For the first game of the year, Green Valley Christian School traveled 176 miles to Arizona, to play El Capitan High.
After trailing 12 points going into the fourth quarter, they came back to win 28-27.
"That first game meant a lot to us," eighth grader Jon Athan said. "Hearing the fans cheering and seeing how a few seconds could change a game — that really helped to motivate us."
The win wasn't pretty, but it was a major triumph for Bristol.
"I didn't know what to expect because these boys had never played in a real competitive league before," he said. "Getting that first win made believers out of the kids. It could have fallen apart if we lost that one because they wouldn't have believed in what my philosophy was."
Bristol has plenty of plans for the school in the future.
As the school's enrollment increases, he hopes to start a girls basketball program. This spring he hopes to run a co-ed golf team.
Eventually he wants to build the boys into a winning program that will compete in the NIAA. But for now Bristol is content with teaching them the basics.
"I don't care if we win or lose," he said. "The bottom line is teaching these kids the fundamentals and how to be better young men."
Sean Ammerman can be reached at 990-2661 or firstname.lastname@example.org.