In Columbia County boys' high school basketball action, two teams are off to strong starts this season, while two others have shown marked improvement so far during the 2001-02 court campaign.
The Augusta Christian Schools and Evans High School squads are leading the way, but teams from Harlem High School and Augusta Preparatory Day School both appear to be on the rise.
Augusta Prep's Peter Rivner collides with other players as he scrambles for a loose ball during Thursday's game against Cambridge Academy in the Garden City Tip-Off Classic, last weekend, where prep posted two wins.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Augusta Christian stayed unbeaten by sweeping two games last weekend at the George Walton Invitational Tournament. AC capped the championship Saturday with a 33-29 win over George Walton, the defending Class AAA Georgia Independent Schools Association champions.
Lions junior forward Jordan Belcher earned MVP honors at George Walton.
"We're not really playing great basketball, but we're 6-0. How many teams would argue about that? But we still need to get better," AC coach Mike Gold said. "We haven't really put a complete game together; we'll be dangerous when we do."
Success is nothing new for AC - the five-time defending Region 4-AAA champion Lions began 13-0 last season and did not lose a game until January.
Meanwhile, Evans established itself as the top public high school hoops team in the county last year with a final 19-8 record. The Knights were hurt by graduation, but the newcomers are still winning.
But it hasn't been easy - Evans improved to 4-1 with a 55-54 win last Friday night at East Coweta High School. In fact, all five of the Knights' games have been decided by two points or less.
"The kids have hung tough mentally and focused on ways to win," Kenny said. "As inexperienced as they are, they're producing like a veteran team. The biggest thing is that they are very confident."
In their only loss, the Knights were victimized at home by a buzzer-beating shot from Mount Zion-Jonesboro.
"We could very easily be 5-0. Not taking anything away from Mount Zion, but it was a lucky shot. Their kid just threw it up there and it went in," Kenny said.
Considering Evans barely slipped by Harlem, and needed final-second blocks to beat Lakeside and Cross Creek, Kenny isn't complaining. "We'll take 4-1, no doubt," he said.
The Augusta Prep Cavaliers and the Harlem Bulldogs should be satisfied as well.
Augusta Prep posted two wins in the Garden City Tip-off Classic last weekend at Boardman Gymnasium, which gave first-year Cavs coach Al West three wins, which is one less than the team totaled all last season.
At Harlem, coach Kim Chambers is teaching the Dogs some new tricks. Harlem already has picked up two wins over Greenbrier, and gave Evans fits earlier this season. Harlem should easily surpass last season's win total of four, according to coach Kenny.
"Kim's done an excellent job over there," Kenny said. "They play hard. Harlem will make some noise in their region this year, that's for sure."
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