When the boys basketball team at Augusta Christian Schools began its run of Region 4-AAA titles, Jamal Womble, Dan Wiley, Mark Herrmann and Adam McKinney were in elementary school.
Now the four Lions are seniors at Augusta Christian, trying to lead their squad to an eighth-straight region crown, and that's not something they take lightly.
"I think they do have a sense that it's part of their responsibility to carry on the tradition," AC coach Marty Griffin said.
As a result of the excellence established in the past, coping with pressure is something the current Lions have learned to live with.
"The Bible says to whom much is given, much is expected," Womble said. "The Lord has blessed us with a lot of good teams, good players and good coaches. We've got a lot to live up to, and sometime that's hard to handle."
Womble is hard to handle himself. At his forward position, he said his aim is "to just dominate any way I can to help my team."
As a senior, Herrmann said he feels like he's "under a microscope." He knows he doesn't play for an ordinary team, and that's something he has learned to appreciate.
"This school has taught me that you can't get anywhere unless you work hard," he said. "That's a life-lesson right there."
McKinney didn't play basketball last season, but the quest for victory brought him back to the court for his senior campaign. The football standout has brought a gridiron mentality to the hardwood, where his physical play in the paint is part of a bigger picture.
"It's an honor to be part of Augusta Christian and the basketball tradition here," McKinney said. "We hope to carry it on this year. I know this group of guys is driven to not be second-best. We know what's expected of us."
For Wiley, there's plenty on the line as AC's starting point guard. He's not interested on scoring points. Wiley wants to get his teammates involved and to play tough defense, because that's what wins championships.
"I'm not trying to look ahead, but it's definitely on our mind that we're good enough to make a run in the state playoffs," he said. "I think we're coming together at the right time."
Still, at a school where 20-win seasons are the norm in basketball, and where two state championships have been won, the four senior Lions realize there's just one way to make their mark.
"If we can put a state championship banner on the wall, we can be remembered as one of the best," Herrmann said. "The only way we're going to do that is to play as a team, and we're starting to do that."
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