Last weekend at the fourth annual CSRA Middle and High School All-Star basketball games, several Columbia County players showcased some major talent.
The games were Saturday at Augusta State University's Christenberry Field House. The middle-school action featured the top players from Columbia, Richmond, McDuffie and Burke counties, and the high-school contests encompassed more that 50 prep programs from Georgia and South Carolina.
One Columbia County player earned quite an honor - Riverside Middle School's Blake Brandenburg received the first-ever Michael Curry Award. The award was based on the player who demonstrates the best attitude, work ethic and team play, qualities that helped make Curry an NBA starter for the Detroit Pistons.
Brandenburg was selected from more than 100 athletes.
Many other players also represented Columbia County and turned in solid performances on the court.
Following is a list of Columbia County's all-stars and their respective schools.
Middle-school girls: Riverside - Tiffany Blackburn (10 points) and Tori Drew; Greenbrier - Michelle Swiec (7 points), Suzanne Jenkins, Kelsey Sheron (7 points) and Brooke Jackson (2 points); Lakeside - Brittany Brooker (3 points); Evans - Kelly Segraves (2 points), Tiphani Grimes and Lauren Middleton (2 points).
Middle-school boys: Lakeside - Isaac Hurst (11 points) and Jermel Bennett (3 points); Columbia - Brendan Gray (9 points); Evans - Brandon Durr (7 points), Steven Hardy (6 points), Tad Holder (9 points) and Josh McDaniel (2 points); Riverside - Blake Brandenburg and Alan Lanier (2 points).
High-school girls: Lakeside - Toya Coard (8 points) and Molly McFerran (2 points); Greenbrier - Katie Sutherland (3 points); Augusta Prep - Rebecca Smith.
High-school boys: Greenbrier - Eric Marshall (10 points, plus a third-place finish in the dunk contest); Evans - John Harris (2 points).
The games were big successes, with more than 3,000 fans coming through the turnstiles.
The most impressive number for Columbia County, though, was the abundance of local players participating in the all-star games, including 20 middle-schoolers.
Those young players indicate that Columbia County's high-school programs have a bright basketball future.
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