For the past three seasons, the First Assembly basketball program has progressively improved, going from a .500 mark in 2007 to one of the best seasons in program history last year when the Eagles went 27-6 and lost to Asheville in the state championship.
This year, First Assembly is hoping to "reload" rather than "rebuild" and so far things are looking good.
The Eagles are off to a 5-1start (through Dec. 26), averaging more than 80 points per game, with their only loss coming to Westchester Academy, the state's top ranked 2A private school.
The Eagles will take on a Westminster Catawba team that has started out 2-1 in the conference.
Never miss a local story.
The Eagles are still recovering from the loss of four starters from last year's team that was within one win of state title.
But First Assembly has some firepower, led by point guard Kyle Grisby, who leads the team at 20 points per game. Grisby is joined in the backcourt by the talented duo of Seth Simmons (16.8 ppg) and Brandon Murr (11 ppg).
Meanwhile, 7-foot-1, 265-pound David Wishon, a Concord transfer, is working his way into an up-tempo offense, averaging nearly 15 points and six rebounds per contest.
First Assembly can score with anyone in the state, and the Eagles should have no trouble with the Indians, who are still trying to fight their way into the middle of the pack in the MAC.
"I think we are getting better every game," Murr said. "We will learn a lot in (in early January), once we get into the (meat) of our conference (play)."
The Indians have struggled as a program the past few seasons and are hoping to turn things around. All-conference, senior forward Ian Brandt, who is also a star on the football team, is a load to stop down low and on the boards. Meanwhile, Dan Casey and Cameron Atkins are solid on the perimeter.
Westminster Catawba (3-5) has started solid in conference with a 2-1 mark, but keeping up with First Assembly will be much tougher. The Indians have scored 80 points in just one game this year, when they beat Covenant Day 81-63.
If Westminster Catawba has any chance, they must slow the pace and keep First Assembly in the 60 or 70s. The Indians, who last played in their own tournament Dec. 18-19, also will have to deal with a two-week layoff coming into what could be the biggest home game of the season.