If Columbia County's high school basketball squads were judged in stock-market terms, the Lakeside Lady Panthers made the Fortune 500 last week, while the Greenbrier Wolfpack went the direction of Martha Stewart.
The Wolfpack took a slide when senior guard Eric Marshall was injured last Tuesday in a game at Statesboro; to make matters worse, sophomore forward J.C. Jennings also was sidelined with ankle problems.
Subsequently, Greenbrier dropped successive games to Statesboro, Thomson and Lakeside, and the 58-55 loss Saturday to the Panthers was the Pack's first defeat in four meetings with their county rival this season.
Then there's the opposite side of the ledger - Lakeside girls basketball coach Bill Richey needed just one word to describe his team's victory last week over Hephzibah.
"Historic," Richey said.
In Friday's game at Lakeside, the Lady Panthers recorded their first-ever win against the Lady Rebels, and that 53-47 victory was the crown jewel of an impressive portfolio amassed so far this season.
Lakeside kept rolling Saturday with a decisive 55-26 home-win against Greenbrier, which gave the Lady Panthers a school-record 17 wins.
Toya Coard sparked Lakeside past Hephzibah, pouring in 14 of her game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, when the Lady Panthers outscored the Lady Rebels 21-9 to break open a close game. Junior Brittany Barden chipped in 14 points during the key Region 3-AAAA game.
The non-region contest with Greenbrier showcased why Lakeside is the top girls squad in Columbia County this season - 12 Lady Panthers put points on the board, Kim Leeds and Jamie Lake were defensive catalysts, and every member of the team contributed hustling play.
"They're getting after it," Richey said. "That's the whole thing about this team - they dive for loose balls, and after a couple of bad losses, they did a good job of regrouping. It's really been a special team."
Greenbrier's Brittany Leverett (left) and Amy Rigdon defend Lakeside's Jamie Lake during Saturday's game. Lakeside won 55-26.
Photo by Mike Howell
With one region game remaining (a home match Friday against Butler), the Lady Panthers are positioned for a top five seeding in next week's Region 3-AAAA tournament, which would move Lakeside a step closer to earning its first trip to the state playoffs.
"It's (the region tournament) going to be a one-game season, and that's how we're going to approach it," Richey said. "There's going to be pressure, but the girls have risen to the occasion, so we're capable of doing it."
The Harlem Bulldogs, meanwhile, appear ready to make a run at a second straight state playoff berth.
The Dogs split back-to-back games last week with Region 3-AAA foes. Harlem topped Jefferson County 63-56 Friday night, but despite a 65-63 setback Saturday to Washington County, the Dogs could be dangerous in next week's region tournament.
"I'm super pleased with the progress of this team. They are really playing hard," Harlem coach Kim Chambers said.
Kelvin Sturgis, David Green, Tim Camp, John Hardin, Joey Shiver and Jon Rickerson have shared the scoring load for Harlem, while Sturgis, Green and Camp have been the leaders on defense.
Harlem caps the regular season Friday against Laney, and the Dogs need a win to maintain their standing in the bunched Region 3-AAA race. A top-five finish would keep Harlem out of next week's region play-in game between the No. 6 and 7 seeds.
"It's the last home game for our seniors, so it means a lot to us," Chambers said. "We control our own destiny. If we can win that game we'll finish no worse than a tie for fifth in the region."
Friday: Butler at Lakeside, 7 p.m. (girls) and 8:30 p.m.; Greenbrier at Glenn Hills, 5 p.m. (girls) and 7 p.m.; Laney at Harlem, 7 p.m. (girls) and 8:30 p.m.; Augusta Christian at Augusta Prep, 6:30 p.m. (girls) and 8 p.m.
Saturday: Greenbrier at Evans, 5 p.m. (girls) and 6:30 p.m.; LaGrange Academy at Augusta Prep, 3 p.m. (girls) and 4:30 p.m.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.