With the high school basketball regular season now in the books, some Columbia County squads are ready to write a new chapter during region tournament play this week.
The Augusta Christian Lions are shooting for a seventh straight Region 4-AAA title, and the quest begins Thursday in Milledgeville with a 5:30 p.m. matchup against Westminster.
"You talk about peaking at the right time, and hopefully we're starting to play the type of basketball we need to play," AC coach Andrew Bryan said. "We have a few guys who have won region championships, and we have new kids who have never experienced it. They've really seen what Augusta Christian basketball is all about."
While the Lions are looking to build on an established basketball legacy, two other county squads are positioned to make history this week.
The Greenbrier Wolfpack and the Lakeside Lady Panthers are one win away from securing their first trip to the Georgia High School Association state basketball tournament.
The Pack takes on Thomson on Thursday at 5:30 p.m., and the winner of that Region 3-AAAA contest at Cross Creek High School automatically advances to state.
"Our kids wanted to play Thomson. They remember some of the past scores," Greenbrier coach Garret Black said, alluding to some meetings when Thomson allegedly ran up the score.
On Jan. 31 at the Brierpatch, Thomson routed Greenbrier 97-57, but things could be different in the region tourney - Pack star Eric Marshall missed the earlier game with an injury, and so did J.C. Jennings, Greenbrier's top rebounder.
Marshall returned last week for a key region contest at Glenn Hills, and scored 29 points to pace the Pack to victory. Jennings tacked on 20 points during a win Saturday at Evans, as Greenbrier improved its record to 18-7.
"We've got everyone back healthy," Black said. "Thomson has a good ball club, but they're beatable when we're healthy."
The Lakeside girls also will have plenty of incentive when they step on the court today at Cross Creek to take on Baldwin in the Region 3-AAAA tournament.
With a win, the Lady Panthers would reach the 20-win plateau, but more importantly, Lakeside would secure a spot in the Class AAAA state tournament.
"The girls are motivated. The problem now is no one is going to take us lightly anymore," Lakeside coach Bill Richey said.
In other region tournament action this week, the Augusta Prep Lady Cavaliers hope lady luck keeps smiling. Prep closed its Region 4-AAA schedule last week with an exciting 32-31 win over Augusta Christian; a last-second shot by AC's Virginia Wright refused to fall.
Had Wright's shot dropped, AC would have clinched the No. 2 seed in Region 4-AAA, but the Lady Lions were about to be stuck with another defeat.
Augusta Prep, Augusta Christian and John Milledge Academy all finished with identical region records, so following Prep's home win over AC, representatives for each team convened for a coin flip to decide region seedings.
The Lady Lions settled for a No. 4 seed, John Milledge was awarded the No. 2 seed and Prep took No. 3 - the top three seeds earn automatic bids into the Georgia High School Association Class AAA state tournament, which begins next week.
As the No. 4 seed in Region 4-AAA, the Lady Lions had to play Westminster Tuesday, while Augusta Prep got to rest before facing John Milledge Thursday.
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