The inaugural Augusta Christian Schools Christmas Classic basketball tournament will be played as scheduled this week, but the main focus will not be on the teams competing for titles in the girls' and boys' divisions.
The story line is centered on who will not be stalking the sideline at the Lions Den.
Mike Gold, Augusta Christian boys' varsity basketball and the school's athletics director, relinquished his positions last week. Gold was in his eighth season at AC, where he led the Lions to two Georgia Independent School Association state titles. Under Gold, the team has captured the past five Region 4-AAA championships.
When it was announced that Gold had resigned, there was a question of whether the Christmas Classic would be canceled.
Augusta Christian interim headmaster Dr. John Bartlett says the show must go on, and the event still will benefit from the golden touch.
"The tournament was one of my major concerns. In his usual manner, Mike had every detail of this tournament worked out, and the tournament will be carried on," Dr. Bartlett said.
Gold's resignation also sparked speculation that the Lions would fall flat and not be able to recover from their coach's sudden departure.
"We honestly do not believe that is the case. The players are going to rally because of their love for Mike Gold," Dr. Bartlett says. "We are living through this and will be victorious through this."
First-year AC assistant coach Andrew Bryan will take over the basketball coaching duties on an interim basis.
"Mike has been tutoring this young man and said that he has the potential to be a great coach," Dr. Bartlett said of Bryan.
Bryan's biggest test may arrive at 8 p.m. Thursday, when Augusta Christian takes on Briarwood Academy in first-round action. "Andrew Bryan is stepping into Mike Gold's very large shoes. I have suggested that he not attempt to be Mike Gold," Dr. Bartlett said.
Augusta Christian Schools Christmas Classic
George Walton vs. Florence Christian (girls), 3:30 p.m.; George Walton vs. Florence Christian (boys), 5 p.m.; Augusta Christian vs. Briarwood (girls), 6:30 p.m.; Augusta Christian vs. Briarwood (boys), 8 p.m.
George Walton vs. Augusta Prep (girls), 11 a.m.; George Walton vs. Augusta Prep (boys), 12:30 p.m.; Westminster vs. Augusta Prep (girls), 2 p.m.; Westminster vs. Briarwood (boys), 3:30 p.m.; Westminster vs. Briarwood (girls), 5 p.m.; Florence Christian vs. Augusta Christian (girls), 6:30 p.m.; Florence Christian vs. Augusta Christian (boys), 8 p.m.
Augusta Prep vs. Westminster (boys), 10 a.m.; Westminster vs. Florence Christian (girls), 11:30 a.m.; Westminster vs. Florence Christian (boys), 1 p.m.; Augusta Prep vs. Briarwood (girls), 2:30 p.m.; Augusta Prep vs. Briarwood (boys), 4 p.m.; Augusta Christian vs. George Walton (girls), 5:30 p.m.; Augusta Christian vs. George Walton (boys), 7 p.m.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.