BRANSON, Mo. –If you build it, they will come.
“It was a challenge to come somewhere new and start something new,” Link Academy forward Jordan Walsh said.
It’s a line right out of the movies, which is kind of the point.
“It was the good, the bad and the ugly,” Link Academy junior forward Omaha Biliew said. “All of that, everything. All the memories the whirlwind events that we went through. It’s something you can’t really talk about it’s something that you have to sum up in a movie.”
That screenplay is about Link Academy.
The director, former Missouri State Bear Rodney Perry.
“He’s great,” Walsh said. “He’s a great coach and to be able to put this amount of talented guys on a team and make them play together in an unselfish way, it takes a special talent, a special mind to do that.”
Tucked away in the Ozarks on the banks of Lake Taneycomo, Link Academy is on the Link campus.
And they just finished their first season of high school basketball.
“The guys all had a common goal, they knew coming here that they had to sacrifice in some way, shape or form,” Perry said. “But it was going to be for the betterment of the team and for their success.”
“It was difficult at first, trying to get our name out there, but as the season went on we got our name out and people knew who we were,” Link Academy forward Tarris Reed said. “By the end of the season we were a top three team in the country.”
As a prep school, Link recruits players from all over the country to play in tournaments across the country.
The wins, the tournament trophies and confidence started piling.
By March, Link became the first program to make the national tournament in its inaugural season.
“We’re making history right now,” Biliew said. “We are doing something that has never been done before. To be apart of this is a great feeling and something I am going to remember forever.”
But it wasn’t the Hollywood ending they were hoping for. Losing in the national championship to Montverde.
“It’s definitely a sour taste in your mouth,” Link Academy junior guard Jordan Ross said. “We did all we did and we had an amazing season, especially being our first year. To capitalize and actually win, that would be big time.”
“Now we realize, hey we can be a national powerhouse program just like Montverde, IMG, Sunrise (Christian), Oak Hills. And us to be there every year,” Perry said. “That’s what we plan to do.”
All from the set in Branson, Missouri.
“I couldn’t be more proud of how we represented our school, the city of Branson, the community and just give all the glory to God,” Perry said.
Link Academy is scheduled to be one of the eight teams to play in the 38th Bass Pro Tournament of Champions in January 2023 in Springfield.