Another high school basketball campaign is in the books, and some scintillating stories played out during the 2001-02 season.
Black gets 300 - Thanks to Tommy McKinney's running jumper as time expired, Greenbrier beat Westside, and Wolfpack coach Danny Black received his 300th career victory. Black now is calling it quits, and he finishes with more wins than any other Columbia County high school basketball coach.
Dogs make state - Led by a complete team effort, the Harlem Bulldogs became the team to beat in Region 3-AAA. The Dogs didn't do it with smoke and mirrors - Harlem was solid. Domonique Brown and Chris Williams were the top scorers, but every player helped Harlem finish second in the region and earn a state playoff berth.
Hot shot Scott - Lakeside sophomore Matt Scott became the Panthers' go-to guy, averaging 19 points per game and pouring in a school-record 43 points during an overtime loss to Butler. Scott is a great leaper with a smooth stroke from the outside.
Triple overtime thriller - Evans knocked off Greenbrier 95-90 in triple overtime, despite a 38-point performance by Pack junior Eric Marshall. The Knights countered with guards John Harris and Teddy Ingram, and won the most exciting game of the season in Columbia County.
Love over Gold - In perhaps the most stunning developments of the season, Mike Gold resigned as coach of the Augusta Christian Lions. Gold was embroiled in a controversy involving a personal relationship with a faculty member at AC, and stepped down in December. Andrew Bryan took over as interim coach, and the Lions regrouped to win a sixth straight Region 4-AAA championship.
All in all, it was quite an exciting hoops season for Columbia County.
Now that the action has ended, it's time to name the All-Columbia County High School Basketball team for both the girls and boys. Each all-county squad features 10 players, with first and second-team selections.
Additionally, two prep standouts emerged as Players of the Year, while one coach took two honors for his efforts.
The competition for post-season accolades was fierce, and there wasn't much difference between the first and second-team players. Those who made the list, including the honorable mention players, should be applauded for a job well done.
All-County Team - Boys
Point guard: John Harris, 5-11 junior, Evans - Made a smooth transition from private to public school hoops. Harris led the Knights in scoring (14.3), assists (6.2) and steals (3.5). Second team: Tommy McKinney, 5-11 senior, Greenbrier - Great quickness and leadership for the Pack. Averaged 15.4 points and five rebounds per game.
Guard: Eric Marshall, 6-3 junior, Greenbrier - Transfer student stepped in and made an immediate impact by leading Greenbrier to the championship in the Columbia County Christmas Tournament. Marshall averaged 21 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists. Second team: Jordan Belcher, 6-1 junior, Augusta Christian - A great shooter, averaged 18 points per game. Belcher should have a huge senior season.
Guard: Matt Scott, 6-3 sophomore, Lakeside - Due in part to hard work in the off-season, Scott made incredible strides from a year ago. He averaged 19 points and 4.3 rebounds, shot 77 percent from the line and hit 30 3-point shots. Second team: Teddy Ingram, 6-2 senior, Evans - Often was the Knights' top weapon, averaged 11.4 points and 4.2 rebounds a game.
Forward: Domonique Brown, 6-1 senior, Harlem - The county's Player of the Year in football was pretty good on the hardwood, averaging 13.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists. Brown scored in double figures in 20 of 23 games, and also notched 16 double-doubles. Second team: Matt Josephson, 6-2 senior, Lakeside - Came on strong late in the season, and, out of necessity, sacrificed his outside game to pound inside. He averaged 13 points and 5.5 rebounds.
Forward: Lee Jones, 6-2 senior, Augusta Christian - Closed a fantastic career in style, averaging 18.5 points and eight rebounds per contest. His highlight was scoring 39 points during AC's win over Westminster. Second team: Chris Williams, 6-1 senior, Harlem - A consistent scorer for the Dogs, led Harlem with a 13.9 point per game average and shot 82 percent from the line.
Honorable mention: Evans - Kendrick Davis, Marcus Davis; Greenbrier - Richard Burke, Dupaul Scott, Eric Taylor; Harlem - Travis Jackson, David Green; Augusta Christian - Scott Bodden; Augusta Prep - Sam Nicholson, Jim Bennett; Lakeside - Aris Verrett, Adi Filipovic.
All-county team - Girls
Point guard: Toya Coard, Lakeside junior - Averaged 15 points and drained an amazing 67 3-pointers. She used quickness to score transition buckets, and was always a threat from behind the arc. Second team: Laura Tam, Harlem senior - Leader for the Lady Dogs averaged 11 points, three assists, three rebounds and 2.6 steals.
Guard: Erica Johnson, Greenbrier senior - Has had a solid career with the Lady Wolfpack. As a senior, Johnson averaged 10.3 points and three assists per game. She'll now move on to Georgia Southern University on a softball scholarship. Second team: Cat Banks, Greenbrier junior - Despite being a junior, Banks will graduate early, so her playing days are over. The transfer from Camden, S.C. averaged 8.6 points and 3.4 assists.
Forward: Melissa Wright, Augusta Christian senior - Technically a guard for the Lady Lions, Wright gets the nod as an all-county forward because of her strong defense and aggressive play in the paint. Was easily AC's top performer, averaging 11 points, eight rebounds and five steals. Second team: Rebecca Smith, Augusta Prep junior - Solid all-around athlete, averaged 11.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.5 steals to earn a spot on the all-county squad.
Forward: Nichole Bennett, Lakeside senior - Did a little bit of everything, as her numbers attest. She averaged 11 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.9 steals. Bennett currently is being recruited by Murray State and Georgia College & State University. Second team: Erica Jansen, Lakeside senior - Earned raves from area coaches for her hard work and hustle. Low scoring average (six points per game) was misleading, as Jansen grabbed 8.5 rebounds. Also, she recorded a double-double in eight of the last nine games.
Forward: Lindsey Sutherland, Greenbrier senior - A hard-nosed approach helped her average 7 points per game and a county-leading 10.1 rebounds. Sutherland now will compete in two sports (track and volleyball) at Gardner-Webb in Boiling Springs, N.C. Second team: Christy Steflik, Evans junior - Much improved player averaged eight points and 7.2 rebounds for the Lady Knights.
Honorable mention: Harlem - Nila James, LaToya Johnson; Evans - Ashley Brodhecker, Kiley Smith; Greenbrier - Amy Rigdon, Christina Large; Augusta Prep - Abby Alexander; Lakeside - Kelly Newman, Brittney Watts; Augusta Christian - Stephanie Byler, Virginia Wright.
Players of the Year
Boys: Eric Marshall, Greenbrier - Here's a case where numbers tell the story. Before Marshall hit the court, the Pack's record was 1-6. With Marshall in uniform, Greenbrier was 11-8 in a tough region, plus the Pack won the Columbia County Christmas Tournament with the newcomer on board.
After being named Most Valuable Player in the Christmas Tournament, Marshall scored over 30 points four times, including 37 to spark an upset of Statesboro. Despite being roughed up by opponents, and despite facing defenses geared to stop him, Marshall displayed maturity rarely seen in a prep player. If he has a good summer, and keeps improving as a senior, he should draw interest from Division I college programs.
Girls: Toya Coard, Lakeside - She edged out teammate Nichole Bennett for top honors in Columbia County. Coard ran the team at point guard, and led the entire county (girls and boys) in 3-point shots made, with 67. Like Marshall, Coard was targeted by opponents' defensive pressure, yet still was the leading scorer (15 points per game) among Columbia County's girls.
Coach of the Year
Harlem High School's Kim Chambers coaches both the girls and boys, and he gets to wear two crowns as Columbia County Coach of the Year for his work with each team.
Chambers took the Bulldogs to the Region 3-AAA title game, earned a spot in the state playoffs, and engineered a tremendous turnaround, as Harlem posted a 13-12 record one season after going 4-20.
While the Lady Dogs won only seven games, that's a major improvement from an 0-22 campaign. Harlem also won three region games, and Chambers drew praise from other county coaches for how hard his girls played.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.