Lakeside's Kim Leeds and Evans' Ashley Brodhecker fight for control of the ball during the recent Columbia County Christmas Tournament in Harlem.
Photo by Jim BlaylockThe new year brings new challenges for the Greenbrier High School boys basketball team. Likewise, the Lakeside High School girls will hit the court in 2003 with new resolution.
With the Region 3-AAAA schedule kicking in, the two hottest high school hoop teams in Columbia County can't afford to waste time singing Auld Lang Syne.
Wolfpack coach Garrett Black and Lady Panther coach Bill Richey agree that the fond memories of their teams taking titles at the Columbia County Christmas Tournament should be forgotten.
"I'm proud of the kids, but we can't be satisfied. We have a whole other season ready to start," Black said after Greenbrier swept to a Christmas championship at the Harlem High School gym.
The Pack has stormed to a 10-0 start this season, which tops the run posted by the 1999-2000 Greenbrier team, which opened with a 10-1 mark and also claimed a Christmas crown.
The Lakeside girls, meanwhile, have run roughshod over their county opponents this season, including routs of Harlem and Evans in the Christmas tournament. The Lady Panthers stand 8-2 heading into region play.
"On Jan. 3, we drive down to Statesboro, and that's really like the start of a second season for us," Richey said. "We started the season with four goals: we wanted to improve as a team, and we've made strides toward that; we wanted to be the best team in the county; we wanted to win the county tournament; and we want to be competitive in the region. We'll find out about that fourth goal in January."
Lakeside has been sparked by the scoring of senior guard Toya Coard, but the early success also can be attributed to the poise displayed by the Lady Panthers.
From a methodical pre-game warmup session, to disciplined shot selection, to hustling play from every member of the team, the Lady Panthers are focused, which is by design.
"We're trying to emulate the better programs, like Glenn Hills and Hephzibah," Richey said of the two teams that rule Region 3-AAAA and rest atop the state rankings.
"We want to be all business, get out there with the right attitude and do it. We have a no-nonsense group this year. I think we're going in the right direction."
The Greenbrier boys also seem primed to move up the pecking order in Region 3-AAAA. The Pack just missed earning their first trip to the state playoffs last season, and with senior guard Eric Marshall leading an athletic group, Greenbrier might be ready to take the next step this year.
"We feel like we've got a good basketball team and can play with anybody," Black said. "It's just a matter of playing hard for four quarters."
Greenbrier begins region play Friday against Cross Creek, and when tipoff time arrives at the Brierpatch, the Pack will be both the hunter and the hunted.
"Now we have a target on our chests, so teams are going to come after us even harder," Marshall said. "We've just got to stay focused and continue playing as a team, and I believe we'll be all right."
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