While not in unchartered waters, it’s been some time since the Augusta Prep Cavaliers have been this deep in the Georgia Independent School Association’s state basketball playoffs.
With a 69-58 win over Heritage on Saturday, the Cavaliers (19-8) advanced to the GISA Class AAA State boys basketball semifinals for the first time since 1998. The Cavaliers’ second-round win followed a 49-39 first-round victory days earlier against Brookwood.
As the fifth game of the day in a full slate of GISA state action, the Cavaliers semifinal is scheduled to begin today at 7 p.m. at Mercer University in Macon, Ga.
The foe won’t be an unfamiliar one as they’ll be facing Westminster Schools of Augusta. With the stakes raised, the fifth meeting will also be the rubber match as the teams have split their previous four games.
“I’m really excited that two teams from our region get to be in the Final Four.” said Augusta Prep coach Mike Guthrie. “It really shows the strength of our region.”
The Wildcats beat the Cavaliers at Augusta Prep at the Garden City Classic in early December with the Cavaliers turning the tables on the Wildcats at an Edmund Burke tournament two weeks later. In a span of a week in February, the Cavaliers beat the Wildcats 39-37 at home, with the Wildcats winning 34-32 in overtime on their court.
“There won’t be any less stress, but there’s certainly less preparation,” Guthrie said.
Heritage couldn’t focus on just one player as the Cavaliers got contributions from all over the court. Michael Downing scored 15 points, Miles Downing added 14, Nate Pylant chipped in with 12 while Spencer King scored 11,
“We’re goimg to need another team effort from all our guys,” said Guthrie of what the key to beating the Wildcats would be.
To get adjusted to an arena setting, the Cavaliers practiced Monday at Christenberry Fieldhouse, home of the Georgia Regents University Jaguars.
The winner of the contest will advance to Saturday’s 8:30 p.m. final facing the winner of Tatnall Square and Stratford.