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Keep an eye on these Lions

Posted: December 18, 2013 - 12:02am

The Augusta Christian basketball team has jumped out of the gate with an 8-2 start and appear headed for a great season. ACS is coming off a 20-win season a year ago, but this year’s team is much improved. They added a big-time transfer in 6-1 point guard Jordan Dingle.

Dingle comes in from South Aiken where he was an All-Region performer a year ago in Class AAAA. He also has already garnered plenty of attention from college scouts and even has scholarship offers from Wofford and Western Carolina.

They have also already been tested this season playing in events in Charleston and even traveling to Gilbert Arizona for a major event. The team headed west to play in the Third Annual Christian Cup, which is a gathering of some of the top private school programs in America.

It was an opportunity Coach John Harris said the team could not pass up. “We got the call inviting us out of the blue, but there was no way we could say no. Plus, they cover a lot of our expenses.” said Harris.

Out in Arizona, the team did suffer one of its losses, but that defeat came at the hands of Oaks Christian from Westlake Village, Calif. Some looked at the 80-44 blow out loss as an indictment on the Lions team, but a little homework would let everyone know that Oaks Christian is one of the top teams in California and features more than a half dozen college prospects.

Oaks Christian’s Head Coach A.J. Moye was a star high school player in Georgia in the late 90’s and went on to a solid career at Indiana from 2000-04.

After playing professionally overseas for several years, he returned home and joined the staff at Oaks Christian. Well, now he is the head coach and has built quite the team. The squad features his little brother, Austen (6-5, 198 lbs.), who had 14 pts. and 12 rebounds versus ACS.

They also have 6-8, 235-pound Cal Poly Signee Aleks Abram, 6-6 wing player Jordan Flannery, and the team’s leader is 6-1 Kenny Smith Jr. Smith’s father is the former North Carolina and NBA star, now known for his broadcasting work. Smith Jr. had 15 pts. and 10 assists. So that loss can be forgiven.

Especially when you consider that the Lions knocked off their other opponent Brookside Christian (Stockton, California) 60-54. The Lions also topped a very good Fox Creek team 83-62. Fox Creek has a pair of tremendous guards, but ACS simply ran them down...literally. They broke open a close game by outscoring Fox Creek 31-12 in the fourth quarter to earn the lopsided victory.

Dingle’s addition added to an already loaded roster of guards at Augusta Christian. While he is the primary point guard, he is one of a handful of players that can take the reins at any time. Sr. Ashton Grant (5-8), Sr. Nick Fortenberry (5-8), Soph. Madison Williams (6-2), Jr. Zach London (5-9) can all take the ball and go.

“We like to get out and run. Jordan runs the point, but Ashton, Nick, and Madison can all play that spot. We like to push the ball and wear teams down” added Coach Harris. Fortenberry averaged over 15 ppg. a year ago and can really shoot the ball from three point range.

Ashton Grant simply does everything Harris asks him to do. Whether he needs to handle the ball, distribute to his teammates, and lock down an opponent’s top player, Grant can do it all.

In Williams, ACS has a budding star. If he continues to work and improve, the 6-2 sophomore has a chance to be a big time recruit.

He has tremendous athleticism and he already has excellent size for his position. London is a player that has worked hard on his game to earn serious minutes in a crowded back court and he gives the Lions another good outside shooter.

When a team has so many talented guards they need some help down low, and the Lions have big man Calvin Taylor. The 6-9, 250-pound Taylor can chip in by scoring, but his main role is to rebound and play defense, which are his strengths. The team also has slasher Jacob Greenway (6-2, Junior).

Greenway was an all-county performer a year ago, but like every other guard for the Lions, he is having to share minutes this year on a very balanced squad. The recipe is working for Harris. In addition to the wins over Brookside Christian and Fox Creek, the Lions have also beaten Silver Bluff, Westminster, and GAIS (Greater Augusta Independent School), all of which are solid teams.

Coach Harris is a former standout player, earning all county honors at Augusta Christian and Evans during his prep career.

He also played on some very good teams, but this Lions squad could
provide Harris and his staff a chance to make a very deep run in the SCISA playoffs in a few months.

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