Pondering the legacy of CCS team

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 22, 2005

How will they be remembered?

The question hung like a Jamal Prentice jumper, then dropped with the sound of the final buzzer of the Alabama Independent School Association, Class 1A title game.

It will be chewed on by fans, who stormed the floor to help Cornerstone Christian celebrate the school’s first state title in any sport.

It will be tossed about by players who remember days when the Chargers invoked about as much fear as BYE on an AISA basketball schedule.

It will be banter for a community, which watched as CCS moved into a new gymnasium after years of road games and parking-lot practices.

It will be pondered by the coach who lost everything, before winning it all.

Cornerstone Christian School, indeed, has come a long way.

&uot;Our school has been through a lot,&uot; CCS coach Tim Smith said. &uot;Just like any other private school, it’s been up, it’s been down. We’ve had our struggles financially; but the main thing is that God has led us right through.&uot;

Just before the Autauga game, Smith pulled out the scorebooks from the past few years.

He rattled off some scores to show them how far they had come. Autauga 81, Cornerstone 16. Autauga 61, Cornerstone 20.

Moments later, the Chargers took the floor and came away with a 42-32 victory over Autauga Academy to earn a spot in finals.

On Friday, they went a step further, claiming the AISA crown.

They had plenty to play for – pride, the spirit of competition and a coach who had lost nearly everything in a fire that destroyed his home just weeks before.

Smith won’t say he doesn’t have anything – he feels he has been bestowed with countless blessings – but the blaze that swallowed his home took with it nearly all of his worldly possessions.

Instead of winning one for him, however, Smith sent his players into the championship game with instructions to win it for each other.

After all, they were the ones who would be on the court; they were the group that had become one as a unified team.

So Cornerstone went out and did just that, fighting through a late comeback attempt by MMI to win the title in overtime.

They followed Smith’s instruction, winning for no one other than themselves.

But don’t think they didn’t save a little for the coach who taught them to believe.

For many, they may be simply remembered as the championship team from that small private school near Columbiana.

For others, they may not be remembered at all, save for a line or two in the AISA record books.

But these Cornerstone Chargers have left what will surely be a lasting legacy in the minds and hearts of a south Shelby County community.

Ashley Vansant is the sports editor at the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at mailto:ashley.vansant@shelbycountyreporter.com