The 2002-03 high school basketball season is in the books, and for Columbia County squads and their fans, it was a campaign to remember.
Lakeside's girls won 19 games, and the Lady Panthers were ranked in the top 10 in Class AAAA for most of the season.
The Greenbrier boys had an amazing run early, and finished with a school-record 18 wins.
There also were some tremendous individual performances.
Greenbrier's Eric Marshall led all Augusta-area players in scoring, and Lakeside's Matt Scott was second - having the two top local scorers was a first for Columbia County.
You might have guessed that Scott and Marshall are easy picks for my annual All-Columbia County High School Basketball Team, and you're right.
Now the tough part - singling out the rest of the best that will make up the 2002-03 All-Columbia County squads, which feature five players and a 'sixth man."
In many cases, there wasn't much difference between first-team selections and players that received honorable mention. They're all good, and worthy of recognition for their efforts.
And in the case of Harlem senior David Green, the omission from the first team was particularly agonizing. The senior guard had the numbers, but was dismissed from the Harlem squad near the end of the season, so he also missed out on the postseason honors.
Girls All-County Team
Guard: Toya Coard, Lakeside senior. Coard led Lakeside in scoring, with 19 points per game. She likely will have a chance to play on the collegiate level.
Guard: Rebecca Smith, Augusta Prep senior. After recovering from a preseason injury, Smith returned and averaged 12 points and three steals per game. She also shot a respectable 35 percent from 3-point range.
Guard: Kim Leeds, Lakeside junior. Leeds topped the Lady Panthers in assists and steals this season. She was a real playmaker at point guard, and also was fierce on defense.
Forward: Molly McFerran, Lakeside senior. Provided strong post play for the Lady Panthers, and led the team by averaging more than eight rebounds a game.
Forward: Katie Sutherland, Greenbrier senior. Sutherland is best known for her softball skills, but she was the key to Greenbrier's solid basketball season. She averaged 8.7 points and 9.4 rebounds a game, plus she was the team's only senior and played the role of team leader.
Sixth man: Jamie Lake, Lakeside junior. Lake is a solid all-around player, and can really come through on defense. She averaged nine points and seven boards a night.
Honorable Mention: Greenbrier - Amy Rigdon and Kiley Moranski; Augusta Prep - Abby Alexander and Mary Hannah Lynn; Augusta Christian - Virginia Wright and Crystin Cromer; Evans - Ashley Brodhecker and Bekah Gibbs; Harlem - Sharday Taylor.
Girls Coach of the Year: Bill Richey. Coach Richey has done a great job since coming over from Westside four years ago, and was the obvious choice as Coach of the Year. At one point this season, the Lady Panthers were ranked No. 5 in the Class AAAA poll, which was a first for Lakeside. Another first was Lakeside's victory over Hephzibah, which went on the claim region and state championships. Additionally, Lakeside's 19 wins set another school standard in basketball.
Girls Player of the Year: Toya Coard. Coard claimed the same honor as a junior last year, and she was even better as a senior. Coard canned 55 3-pointers, and despite having opponents keying on her, she always found a way to score. Coard isn't very big, but her quickness and court sense make her a formidable performer.
Boys All-County Team
Greenbriers Eric Marshall drives down the court against Thomsons T.A. Roberts.
Guard: Jordan Belcher, Augusta Christian senior. The Lions had a balanced scoring attack this year, so Belcher's offensive numbers went down, but he still averaged 15 points per game. During his career, Belcher was a four-year starter for AC, and was a four-time all-region selection. He also made the all-state team two times.
Guard: John Harris, Evans senior. Harris held his own in rugged Region 7-AAAAA, and poured in 17.5 points per game. He also contributed averages of 3.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists for the Knights.
Guard: Kelvin Sturgis, Harlem senior. Sturgis surprised a lot of people when he decided to play basketball this season, but it was no surprise to see him do so well on the court. Simply put, Sturgis is a great athlete.
Forward: Eric Marshall, Greenbrier senior. His statistics tell the story - per game, he posted 26.2 points, 10.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 3.2 steals. Enough said.
Forward: Matt Scott, Lakeside junior. Like Marshall, Scott was technically a guard, but they both were all over the court. Scott led Lakeside in rebounding (8.1 pre game) but he really shined offensively. scoring at 25.8 points per game. Keep in mind he scored at that clip even though he was double- and triple-teamed all season.
Sixth man: J.C. Jennings, Greenbrier sophomore. The sky is the limit for Jennings. He averaged 10 points and 8 rebounds a game. When he starts maturing, he might be unstoppable.
Honorable mention: Augusta Christian - Warren Chapman, Scott Bodden and Jamal Womble; Evans - Josh Jennell, Steven Rogers, Hank McCladdie and Ricky Crawford; Lakeside - Jeremy Van Valkenburgh; Greenbrier - Eugene Rogers and Daniel Jordan; Augusta Prep - Mark Grayson, Patrick Welch and Glen Miller; Harlem - David Green and Tim Camp.
Boys Coach of the Year: Garrett Black. Black might jokingly say his coaching expertise consisted of sitting back and watching the Eric Marshall Show, but to be honest, Black had to come up with schemes to get his star open and put him in position to score. Also, Black was in his first season as head coach of the Pack, and had to guide a lot of young players. On any given night, Greenbrier was good enough to beat any team in Region 3-AAAA. Missing the state playoffs was a disappointment, but 18 wins is something to be proud of.
Boys Player of the Year: Eric Marshall. Like Coard, Marshall is a repeat selection as Player of the Year. His stats are mind-boggling, but numbers only scratch the surface on Marshall's impact on Columbia County basketball. The best way to describe him is to say this - he has no weaknesses on the floor. Marshall can shoot, handle the rock, pass, rebound, defend, he's quick, he can jump, he has a great attitude, he's unselfish, and he works hard. College ball is a major step for Marshall, but I would suspect he's going to become a major star for Wofford next season.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.