The traditional colors of the holiday season were on display last week in the Columbia County Christmas Tournament.
Green was worn by the home teams, and red was seen in the faces of Greenbrier High School's opponents during the two-day basketball event at the Brierpatch.
The Wolfpack and the Lady Pack swept the titles to secure local bragging rights, and that's one Christmas gift the Greenbrier players worked for.
"They've had to overcome a lot of adversity this year, and they've done that pretty well," said Casey Dees, who is in his first season coaching the Pack. "We've got some kids that won't quit. They don't mind who they play, they're going to get in there and give it all they've got."
The Greenbrier girls are a young squad this season, but the players grew up fast last week.
The Lady Pack opened play Friday with a win over Harlem, and the Lakeside girls picked up a first-round win against Evans.
The Wolfpack, meanwhile, cruised past Harlem on Friday, and Evans advanced to the finals with a victory over Lakeside.
That set the stage for Saturday, when both Greenbrier teams used tenacious defense to claim the Christmas crowns.
"It was important for these kids to win this tournament, without a doubt," Dees said after his team topped Evans 42-33 in Saturday's title game.
Greenbrier's boys have become the Grinch of the Columbia County Christmas Tournament. With last week's title, the Pack picked up their fifth championship in the event, and no other county team has won the boys' tourney more than once during its eight-year existence.
On the girl's side, Lakeside had won the past two Christmas Tournaments, but the Lady Pack ended that run with a 48-43 win Saturday.
"We have so may freshmen and sophomores, I didn't know how we would respond to this tournament, which I feel is an important tournament in Columbia County," Lady Pack coach Garrett Black said. "Our kids did respond, and it did mean something to them. That showed all week at practice. Even with exams going on, they were very focused."
Greenbrier guards Michelle Swiec and Kiley Moranski keyed a tough half-court trap, with Melissa Lewis and Alisha Simmons contributing solid inside play for the Lady Pack.
Greenbrier's J.C. Jennings gets tangled up with Evans' Mike Armstrong during the championship game of the Christmas Tournament.
Photo by Mike Howell
"Garrett did a very good job," Lady Panthers coach Scott Resseguie said. "Tonight we might have been outcoached."
After the Lady Pack lost to Lakeside earlier this season, Coach Black decided to mix up his defense for the Christmas rematch. The real difference, though, was the players.
"Our kids just got after it," Black said. "They played hard for 32 minutes. I'm very proud of them."
The same could be said for the Greenbrier boys. In the finals against Evans, the Pack used a patient approach on offense and strong play in the paint to thwart the Knights.
J.C. Jennings, Rich Poythress and Gavin Globensky scrapped for inside points for the Pack, while guards Matthew Todd and Reggie Rice guided Greenbrier's offense.
On the other hand, the Evans offense was simply offensive in the finals.
"Most times when you give up only 42 points, you're going to win the game," Knights coach Kevin Kenny said. "I thought we played good defense. We just didn't shoot the ball well. That's the bottom line."
Girls: Lakeside 49, Evans 32; Greenbrier 68, Harlem 30
Boys: Evans 66, Lakeside 59; Greenbrier 54, Harlem 43
Girls: Evans 48, Harlem 38
Boys: Lakeside 66, Harlem 60
Girls: Greenbrier 48, Lakeside 43
Boys: Greenbrier 42, Evans 33
Girls All-Tournament Team
Kim Millward, Evans
Sharday Taylor, Harlem
Kim Leeds, Lakeside
Alisha Simmons, Greenbrier
MVP: Michelle Swiec, Greenbrier
Boys All-Tournament Team
Jon Rickerson, Harlem
Matt Scott, Lakeside
Hank McCladdie, Evans
J.C. Jennings, Greenbrier
MVP: Gavin Globensky, Greenbrier
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