Maybe what happened Wednesday at the Cross Creek High School gym was a bad omen for two Columbia County high school basketball teams.
At halftime of Lakeside's Region 3-AAAA tournament game with Baldwin, Lady Panther coach Bill Richey leaned on the scorer's table to study the game book.
The table collapsed; later, state playoff dreams would come crashing down.
Lakeside took a nine-point third quarter lead, but Baldwin rallied to take a 65-56 victory, ending the Lady Panthers' quest for the first state playoff berth in team history.
"It was heartbreaking to work so hard and get so close," Richey said. "It just kind of got away from us."
The Greenbrier boys suffered a similar fate in Region 3-AAAA action Thursday night at Cross Creek.
The Pack also needed a win to earn a first-ever trip to the state tournament, but Thomson used superior quickness to humble Greenbrier 70-52.
"Thomson took us out of our rhythm and we couldn't get in any kind of offensive flow," Greenbrier coach Garrett Black said.
There was at least one happy ending for a Columbia County basketball team last week.
In the Region 4-AAA tournament in Milledgeville, the Augusta Prep Cavaliers knocked off home-standing John Milledge Academy. That 60-58 overtime win Tuesday gave Prep a spot in this week's Georgia Independent School Association Class AAA state playoffs, marking the first time the Cavaliers have advanced to state since moving up from Class AA in 1998.
At Cross Creek, though, Lakeside and Greenbrier found themselves up the creek.
The Lady Panthers fell behind Baldwin 14-2, then clawed back into it, thanks to five buckets in the second quarter by Ansley Evans. A spectacular third quarter gave Lakeside a 45-36 lead, but the Bravettes closed the quarter with a 3-pointer, and the fourth belonged to Baldwin.
"We were just trying to win and play hard. We just let it run away from us in the fourth quarter," Lakeside senior Toya Coard said. "At the end it seemed like nothing wanted to go in and they were hitting everything."
Coard, Evans, and Jamie Lake all scored in double figures for Lakeside. Baldwin countered with physical play inside, and that allowed the Bravettes to outscore Lakeside 15 to 2 at the foul line.
"We're a good free-throw shooting team, but we didn't get a chance to show it," Richey said. "I don't want to complain about the officiating, but I thought we had a chance to get to the bonus, and we didn't. If we'd had that, it would have been a different ball game."
Despite the disappointing finish, Lakeside posted a 19-7 record, which was the best in team history. "Everybody stepped up. That was the story of this whole season," Richey said.
Greenbrier also achieved a new bench-mark in basketball, closing with an 18-8 record. The loss to Thomson, however, took some lustre off an otherwise stellar season.
"We pushed the panic button early," Black said. "Maybe that has something to do with a lack of experience in these kind of games."
Thomson controlled the tempo from the opening tip, and in the third quarter, the Pack lost control, committing two technical fouls.
"I was disappointed in some of the kids we rely on, composure-wise," Black said. "We talk all the time about keeping our poise, and we got rattled. At times, some of our underclassmen did some stupid things out there."
With Thomson up 64-38 in the fourth quarter, the Greenbrier student section did a stupid thing. After a couple Pack fans harassed an official, they were ejected from the gym, sparking a mass exodus of unhappy kids.
"I was disappointed in that, too," Black said. "That didn't show much character. A few of them got out of hand."
At the other end of the spectrum was Eric Marshall. The Greenbrier senior scored 25 points Thursday night before fouling out with 1:11 remaining.
"Eric has made basketball fun the last two years for Greenbrier and for Columbia County," Black said. "He fought hard to the end. I'm proud of him, and I'm proud of all my seniors. This was a bad night, but we've had a super year."
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