Crossfire: A Silly Little Thing Called Basketball

Randy Shepherd ministers to a group of campers at the Asheville Christian Academy (Phillip Greene Photo)

“God has allowed us to use the silly platform of basketball to share His gospel throughout the world.”

Those the words of Crossfire co-founder Randy Shepherd.  Shepherd founded Randy Shepherd Basketball Camp in 1990 as a ministry to young people; in 1993 Jamie Johnson joined Shepherd to develop the Crossfire Camps.  Johnson is the son of West Asheville Baptist Minister Dr. James Johnson and the two got their start together as part of the Spirit Express in Memphis and continue now the ministry that God has called them into.

Crossfire is now in the 20th year of doing camps, and through those camps, more than 10,000 young people have been awarded the chance to learn the game of basketball from Shepherd and Johnson, as well as a great group of coaches that work to not only teach the game of basketball to the youth who attend, but also strive to teach life lessons.

“We have had more than 10,000 kids come through the camps,” explained Shepherd, “and more than 8,000 decisions for Christ have occurred through the camp.  Sports have become a God for the world today and it shouldn’t be like that, but as the Apostle Paul stated, we should use any means necessary to preach the Gospel.

“Out of 10,000 kids that have come through the camp, only one I think, Rashaad McCants, is the only player to make it to the NBA.  Statistics tell us that a young person has a better chance of getting struck by lightning than making it to the NBA or the NFL.  It shows that many things will fail you in life, but Jesus will never fail you.”

Crossfire is more than just a basketball camp, however, with a number of ministry opportunities that arise on a daily basis.  From basketball camps to street evangelism, one thing remains the same Shepherd, Johnson and their coaches and players strive to take the gospel to a needy and hurting world.

Through the years, Shepherd and Johnson have been given the opportunity to share the Gospel with some of the most influential people in the world.  Shepherd has shared with President Barak Obama, Michael Jordan, Paris Hilton and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. just to name a few.  Their testimony is one of young men who have grown into leaders because of a willingness to accept the calling that God placed on their lives.

“I started the camp because when I was growing up and going to camp, the only time you heard the name of Jesus was when someone was cussing,” continued Shepherd.  “This camp is a tool to draw someone out that may not go to church or youth group, but will come out to play the game of basketball.”

The camp runs for 7 weeks during the summer, giving hundreds of youth the opportunity to learn the game of basketball, as well as hear the Good News of how Christ can change someone’s life.  They use many stories from scripture to share the greatness of God to a group of youth from many walks of life, from the upper scale to the ghetto and everywhere in between, the Crossfire ministry has one mission: to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The camp also offers scholarships to low-income youth, giving them the opportunity to attend, so that they may be awarded the chance to hear how God can change their lives as well.

If you would like to attend, or send your child, there is still an opportunity to attend this year at Mars Hill College with the Overnight or Day Camp options.  The Day Camp is $225 for the week, and the Overnight camp is $350 and both take place at Mars Hill College the week of July 18-22.  If you would like to attend please fill out the registration form included below and fax it to (828) 255-4364.

For more information, call Crossfire at (828) 255-9111.


Avery 9 and 10 Baseball Opens Tournament Play

Lane Johnson (Submitted Photo)

It was a great night for baseball on Monday as Avery hosted the opening round of district play, hosting the top half of the District 7 Tournament.

Watauga and Ashe opened play in the first contest of the evening, with Watauga shutting down Ashe after the first two innings and posting 16 runs on their way to a 16-4 victory to move them into the winners’ bracket quarterfinals.

Avery took the field next, facing off with the Wilkes National team who had defeated East Catawba to move into the opening round.  The contest got underway shortly after 7 PM with Avery batting first, hoping to jump on top early.  Jordan Lecka opened the game with a walk, but Ethan Adams of Wilkes then retired the side, striking out two in the opening frame.

Lecka then took the mound and faced some stiff competition, with a couple of errors providing a setback.  The Wilkes team plated four runs with just one hit and four Avery errors to take a 4-0 lead after one inning of play.

In the second, Deacon Heath opened the inning with a leadoff single, but a great defensive play shortened the inning when Caleb Hicks belted a ball into left field, but the Wilkes left fielder made a diving catch to record the second out of the inning.  Following Lane Johnson reaching on a walk, Adams earned his third strikeout of the night to quell the Avery threat.

In the bottom half of the inning, Wilkes poured on the offense once again, rallying to plate 9 more runs, knocking Lecka out of the contest to take a 13-0 lead after two innings of play.  Josh McClellan came on in relief and closed out the inning for the Avery All-Stars.

In the third, Adams recorded his 4th strikeout of the contest, before McClellan helped himself, legging out an infield single, and coming around to score to make it 13-1, but Adams struck out the side to close the inning and move into the bottom half.

Wilkes plated another run in the bottom half of the inning on an infield fly, with two on, making it a 14-1 advantage, and Adams struck out the side in the top of the fourth inning to earn the victory.

Wilkes will move on to face the Watauga National team while Avery will await the winner of the Lenior National/Ashe County battle on Saturday, July 3.  Adams closed the night throwing four strong innings giving up one run on two hits, walking three and striking out nine in the win.  Lecka gave up 13 runs in 1 2/3 innings pitched, only one of which was earned, scattering six hits and walking four with two strikeouts.

Best wishes to all the Little League teams as they continue on in the Little League postseason tournament.

Accolades Continue for Lady Vikings

The Avery Lady Viking Soccer team continues to be named among the area’s best by the Asheville Citizen-Times with six girls being named among the All-WNC soccer team.  Lady Viking Head Coach Tom Evaul was named as the Western North Carolina Coach of the Year, and Mary Chesnut Smith earned first team honors.

Megan Robbins, Kaley Faulkner, Katelynn Eudy, Melinda Eggers and Elyse Perry all earned honorable mention honors to the All-WHC team.

The Lady Vikings enjoyed their best season in women’s soccer history, putting together a 20-2-2 record, falling in the State Title contest against Southwest Onslow, but earning respect along the way from many across the state of North Carolina.

Coach Evaul was honored as the NCSCA Coach of the Year in 1A soccer, as well as receiving the Region 10 Coach of the Year prior to earning the All-WHC nod from the Citizen-Times.

Avery did not allow a goal in the postseason prior to the two that were given up in the State Title Contest.

Smith garnered first team honors for her play this season.  She was named WHC Player of the Year for her production this season.  Chesnut scored 33 goals and dished 28 assists, and earned spots on the NCSCA All-Region and All-State teams.

Congratulations to the Lady Vikings for their season and continued accolades that come with their performances this season; the full All-WNC team is as follows:

Coach of the Year

Tom Evaul

Player of the Year

Ashley VanLandingham, TC Roberson, Senior, Midfielder


Nicole Cucchi, Roberson, Senior

Shenny Lenhart, Reynolds, Sophomore

Sydney Maddox, Reynolds, Sophomore

Mary Chesnut Smith, Avery County, Junior


Elizabeth Ross, Tuscola, Senior

Anna Trakas, Polk County, Senior


Rachel Nash, Asheville, Senior

Shannon Pearson, Reynolds, Junior

Hannah Sizemore, Roberson, Junior


Nicole Morgan, Roberson, Senior



Mackenzie LaSure, Asheville sophomore

Eliza Sease, Tuscola senior

Kendall Smith, Roberson sophomore


Katie Biggert, Asheville junior

Maddie Brock, Roberson freshman

Kelli Jo Havener, West Henderson senior

Sivan Levine, Reynolds senior


Rachel Kauffman, Tuscola senior

Michelle Lopez, Reynolds senior

Marissa McCord, Roberson junior


Katie Cavagnini, Reynolds sophomore

Honorable mention

Asheville: Eva McKinsey, Haley Smith, Abby Lenderman and Willow Hubbard.

Asheville Christian Academy: Anna Kendall, Bethany Logan and Patterson Young.

Asheville School: Katie Volatile.

Avery County: Kaley Faulkner, Meggan Robbins, Katelynn Eudy, Melinda Eggers and Elyse Perry.

Carolina Day: Michelle Fidelia and Melissa Garrett.

East Henderson: Nicole Louise, Taylor Fair and Alexis Green.

North Buncombe: Deandra Bodenhorst, Hannah Sorrells, Christina Jackson, Emilee Roberson, Lauren Pruitt and Jade Engstrom.

Polk County: Peyton Habenicht, Jessica Antonio and Katie Wilson.

Reynolds: Nikki White, Morgan Barr, Rachel Kennedy, Alice Langrall, Natalie Bradbury and Looie Doucette.

Roberson: Sarah Linhart, Emily McCord, Eliza Lobdell and Hannah Stanley.

Tuscola: Kathryn Ray, Jamie McCoy and Mackenize Tenan.

West Henderson: Carly Owenby, Aubrey Masters and Emil Harris.

Note: The Citizen-Times All-WNC teams are compiled by staff writer Andrew Pearson and based off nominations from area coaches. Athletes who are not nominated are not eligible for the All-WNC teams.

Knights Fall to Catawba

Samson Jennings carries the ball during Saturday evening's action (Phillip Greene Photo)

Saturday evening, the Golden Knights hosted the Catawba Hornets in search of their second victory of the season.  The Knights entered the contest off a 14-12 victory over the Burlington Bulldogs last weekend, and were hoping their defense would be the answer against the Hornets.

The contest started with promise, but the Knight offense could not move through the Hornet defense as easily as they had a week earlier against the Bulldogs.

The Hornets opened up a big lead in the first half, but the Knights battled back, pushing the ball, and moving down the field.  The Hornets stepped up their defensive play, and as the second half started, the mood on the Catawba sideline was one of pitching the shutout.

In the second half, the Knights began moving the ball, but as they approached paydirt, the Hornets increased pressure, and kept the Knights at bay.  The Hornets added three scores in the second half, and as the game closed, the Hornets held on to earn a 56-0 victory in a hard fought contest.

It was closer than the score indicated, with many great plays, and more evidence that the Knights are continuing to improve.  The Knights are now 1-2 on the season.  Keep up with the Knights at