Voyager Academy has only had one graduating class in its history. The Voyager basketball program, equally young, experienced struggles early on, but has since turned its fortunes around.
The Vikings have won the North Central Athletic Conference the last two years, resulting in two straight appearances in the Division 1A state playoff tournament.
“Our players pretty much started playing varsity right away as freshman and sophomores,” Voyager head coach Mike Huff said. “They struggled against older kids and the talent level was just not there at first. This helped them form an amazing work ethic and kept them determined going forward.”
Huff, an assistant coach for two years under Patrick Walton, has experienced tremendous success during his first year at the helm. The Vikings (23-2, 13-0) are cruising through conference play, seemingly destined for another NCA title and third consecutive post-season appearance.
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Voyager has not experienced much success in the playoffs, losing in the first-round in both appearances. However, Huff and his squad have lofty aspirations for 2015.
“First of all we would like to make it out of the first round this year,” Huff said with a chuckle. “I feel like this team has the potential to win the state championship. We have size, speed, shooting, and depth. There are a few teams that we know we will have to play our best game against to come away with a win, but we expect to make a run.”
Huff’s son Jay, a 6-10 junior forward, and 6-5 senior forward Chris Sause are both crucial to the Vikings’ success. Huff averages 15.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 4.9 blocks per game, while Sause contributes 15.4 points and 5.7 rebounds.
As a junior, Huff has already received official offers from East Carolina and Wofford, while also being recruited by Virginia, Clemson, Duke, Wake Forest, Davidson, and James Madison.
“Those two guys are a pretty potent combination,” Huff said. “ Jay has the ability to shoot from the outside as well as score in the paint. Chris has been our leading scorer throughout his high school career and is just a grinder, he earns his points the hard way.”
Despite having such a talented duo, Huff believes what makes his team truly dangerous is its depth.
“We have at least four or five different kids on the roster who are capable of scoring 20 points on any given night, and that is rare,” Huff said.
Voyager also took on an extremely difficult out-of-conference schedule this season, hoping it will benefit them come playoff time. Huff took his team down to Rock Hill, S.C., in late December for the Moody Holiday Classic. The Vikings won three of their four games in the tournament as they got a chance to play against larger schools and tougher competition.
“We knew that our conference schedule wouldn’t be too strong and that we had a very talented team,” Huff said. “To help prepare for the post-season we thought it was important to play some 3A and 4A schools and we got a chance to do that down in South Carolina.”