There must be something in the water this year at Augusta Preparatory Day School. They produced an amazing fall season in which they were region champions and state runners-up in boys and girls cross county and volleyball and state champions in football.
Carrying the torch for the winter sports program is the boys basketball team, which won the Georgia Independent School Association Class AAA-Region 4 championship on Feb. 21.
As a No. 1 seed, the Cavaliers were set to face Region 3’s No. 4 team Brookwood Thursday night at Tattnall Square Academy.
Playing host to the region tournament, the Cavaliers first beat Pinewood Christian Academy 61-42, beat Bethesda Day by two points for the second time during the season, winning 44-42, then toppled John Milledge Academy 63-47 for the title.
Even with an experienced team, the season started rough as the 17-8 Cavaliers lost four of their first five games. They turned it around winning 10 of their next 11. Entering the region tournament, the Cavaliers lost their final two games by a total of three points. Head coach Mike Guthrie noted what the team’s record could have been had they not lost three region games on the road in overtime.
After getting by Bethesda Day in the region semifinal, Guthrie said he liked what he got from his team in the final against John Milledge, especially when standout senior Michael Downing picked up three quick fouls in the first quarter and played limited minutes the rest of the half. The team had to step up without Downing on the floor and Guthrie’s son Christian, a junior guard, hit two 3-pointers and sank two free throws as the Cavaliers led by seven at the half.
“He (Coach Guthrie) told all of us to step it up and you could definitely tell that everybody stepped it up,” said Christian Guthrie.
Call it experience or call it karma, but the “it” factor may be in the Cavaliers’ favor as six of the players on the team were on the state championship-winning football team.
Downing, a tight end who will play baseball when the basketball season wraps up, has seen the promise of the team coming.
“The senior year I’ve had has been amazing with the teams we’ve had and the wins we’ve had,” Downing said.
Guthrie and his team weren’t looking past Brookwood in their state opener, but he liked his chances heading into Thursday night.
“If we play a good game, we have a great chance of winning.”