Augusta Preparatory Day School basketball coach Kevin Furtado experienced the thrill of victory last week. Then, in a matter of minutes, he tasted the agony of defeat.
That wide-world-of-sports moment happened Tuesday night at Augusta Christian School, where Furtado discovered the pros and cons of coaching two teams.
Furtado's Lady Cavaliers outlasted Augusta Christian 44-37, but with that key Region 3-AAA victory in the books, Furtado watched in frustration as the Lions punished the Prep boys in the nightcap.
The final 61-48 score wasn't nearly that close. Augusta Christian surged to a 34-20 halftime lead, and after Mark Herrmann and Jordan Belcher opened the third quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers, the rout was on.
The Lions led 60-34 with five minutes remaining when AC coach Andrew Bryan sent in the subs.
"After the (Christmas) break, we've really lost the focus we had earlier," Furtado said. "When you go through some tough times, you have to handle it, and right now we're not doing a very good job of that."
With the loss, the Cavaliers fell to 0-4 in region play.
Augusta Christian, meanwhile, improved to 3-1 and remained in the race for the top seed in next month's Region 3-AAA tournament.
The Lions struggled through a three-game losing streak earlier this month, but bounced back with region wins over John Milledge Academy and Westminster.
"When you play team defense and understand each offensive possession matters, you begin to play better basketball, " Bryan said. "That's what I've been stressing, and we still have a long way to go."
Augusta Prep's Katelyn Gibbs (left) and Augusta Christian's Courtney Rabun battle during Tuesday night action at the Lion's Den. Augusta Prep outscored AC 16-6 in the fourth quarter, as the Lady Cavaliers picked up a 44-37 win.
Photo by Mike Howell
AC's turnaround continued Tuesday. The Lions harassed the Cavs with a 1-3-1 half-court trap, and on offense, Augusta Christian patiently pounded Prep into submission.
Belcher paced the Lions with 19 points, while Jamal Womble (17) and Warren Chapman (14) also hit double figures.
"If you pass the ball around, any defense is going to break down. It's just a matter of time," AC senior Scott Bodden said. "You just have to find the opening and make the pass. That's what we've been doing a better job of lately."
While the boys game turned out to be a mismatch, Tuesday's opener packed plenty of drama - but it took a while.
The Lady Lions and Lady Cavaliers were scoreless midway through the first quarter when AC's Virginia Wright broke the ice with a bucket at the 3:51 mark.
The rest of the first half featured six ties, with Prep taking a 22-21 lead into halftime.
In the second half, Wright continued to make plays inside, and Augusta Christian senior Crystin Cromer capped the third quarter with a drive to the hoop, boosting AC a 31-28 advantage.
The fourth quarter was all Augusta Prep. Caroline Hull recorded three steals, Mary Hannah Lynn and Katelyn Gibbs contributed strong play in the paint, while guards Abby Alexander and Rebecca Smith helped clinch the win with clutch shooting.
"We played hard, Augusta Christian played really hard, but we made some key shots," Smith said. "We really needed a win to be placed higher in the region standings."
Actually, Augusta Christian, Augusta Prep and John Milledge Academy are neck-and-neck in the region standings. All three have topped Westminster, but AC beat John Milledge, which in turn knocked off Prep.
"Us, John Milledge and Augusta Christian are all very even. Any one of us could win on a given night," Furtado said. "The key is to keep winning, because the top three seeds in the region tournament earn automatic berths in the state tournament."
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