It was a good opening day for county schools at the Augusta Prep Garden City Classic boys and girls basketball tournament Thursday.
Both Augusta Prep squads advanced to the second of the three-day event with wins; the Cavaliers beating Wardlaw Academy 59-42 while the Lady Cavaliers topped Thomas Sumter Academy 53-26.
Augusta Christian also heads into the second day unblemished. The Lions held off Curtis Baptist 94-86 while the Lady Lions beat Fox Creek 60-17.
The Lady Cavaliers jumped out to a 16-2 first-period lead over the Lady Generals and never looked back, improving to 5-0 in the process.
“We played really good defense and were able to get a lot of younger girls in the game,” said Lady Cavaliers head coach Myran Hunt. “Overall I’m happy with the performance.”
The Lady Cavaliers were led by point guard Amanda Murphy, who finished with a game-high 17 points while nine different players ended up in the scoring column.
In a back-and-forth affair, the Cavaliers outscored Wardlaw Academy 22-8 in the final period to break open what had been just a three-point game at the end of three.
Ben Guthrie sank a 3-pointer as time expired at the end of the third period to give the Cavaliers (3-1) a 37-34 lead, then Michael Downing scored the first five points of the final stanza in less than a minute and the Patriots could not recover.
Downing led the Patriots with 16 points while Caleb Lifsey and Rafay Chaudray each chipped in with 13 points.
Downing was tough both inside and out and showed his prowess with the ball late in the first half when his crossover dribble lost his defender on the perimeter and he fed Lifsey down low for an easy basket. That was part of a 12-0 run that gave the Cavaliers a 28-21 lead at the 5:38 mark of the third period.
The Patriots’ Malik Lee led all scorers with 18 points, but the Cavaliers held him to just five points after the break.
“No. 12 (Lee) was difficult to stop,” said Cavaliers’ head coach Mike Guthrie. ““We had to try to change defenses and the last defense worked better.”
In the tournament’s opening game, the Lions dialed it up from long distance to take care of Curtis Baptist.
Nick Fortenberry accounted for nine of the team’s 13 3-pointers while scoring a game-high 33 points.
The Lions improved to 3-0 and it was the third time in three contests that they scored over 90 points.
The Lions trailed the Crusaders 20-11 with 1:39 left in the first period when Fortenberry started to go to work. He sank the first of three 3-pointers that sparked a 17-4 run, giving the Lions a 28-24 lead with 6:05 left in the half.
“The first three minutes we weren’t scoring,” said Fortenberry. “I came off the bench and I wanted to get the team going.”
Nine different players scored. Ashton Grant was the only other Lion in double figures as he put up 23 points.
The Crusaders did a good job of getting to the foul line, but let points slip away as they converted just 17-of-34 attempts and it especially hurt in the late stages of the game.
Brian Wilson led the Crusaders with 25 points, Justin Wilson had 16, while Ryles and McKai Ray each had 11.