Another high school basketball campaign is in the books, and for the second straight season we are losing one of the premier players in the state. The county's all-time leading scorer, Lakeside's Matt Scott, is moving on.
Also, it was fun watching so many freshman and sophomores play key roles on the varsity level.
Many local hoops observers were predicting a down year on the court for Columbia County's teams, but that wasn't really the case during the 2003-04 season.
There were some down times, to be sure, but some squads and individual athletes held their own on the hardwood.
So here is the best of the best - the All-Columbia County high school basketball teams, along with extra accolades for the top players and coaches.
Boys All-County Team
Guard: Matt Scott, Lakeside senior, 6-3, 180. Averaged 26.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, and nailed a school and county record 106 3-pointers. Scott is being recruited by several Division I programs.
Guard: Warren Chapman, Augusta Christian senior, 6-1, 175. Chapman helped guide the Lions to a 17-8 season. He topped the team, averaging 17.1 points per game Extremely quick, and has a terrific pull-up jump shot.
Lakeside's Matt Scott
Forward: Patrick Mott, Harlem senior, 6-1, 185. Was a do-it-all performer for the Bulldogs. Mott averaged 11.5 points per game and 5.4 rebounds. Gives 100 percent all the time.
Forward: Hank McCladdie, Evans junior, 6-4, 185. McCladdie got better as the year went on and had some terrific games against some of the top teams in the state. Averaged 11 points per game and 5 rebounds despite facing taller opponents on most nights.
Center: Rich Poythress, Greenbrier sophomore, 6-2 1/2 , 210. Poythress had a tremendous season. He averaged more than 11 points and 15 rebounds per game. He was dominant against Lakeside, one of the biggest games of the year, going for 22 points and 18 rebounds in a Wolfpack victory.
Sixth Man: Jamal Womble, Augusta Christian senior, 6-5, 190. Womble is a good athlete who is still raw as a basketball player. Averaged 14 points per game and 8.1 rebounds.
Augusta Christian: Mark Herrmann, senior forward, 6-6, 205.
Augusta Prep: Glen Miller, sophomore guard, 6-1, 190; Patrick Welch, senior guard, 6-3.
Evans: Kenny Garnett, senior guard-forward, 6-1, 185.; Andavionne Costen, sophomore guard, 5-8.
Greenbrier: Eugene Rogers, junior guard-forward, 6-0, 175; Reggie Rice, sophomore guard, 6-0, 185.
Harlem: Tim Camp, senior forward, 6-1, 195.; Jon Rickerson, junior guard, 5-10, 180; Sonjay Boyd, junior guard, 5-10, 160.
Lakeside: Jeremy Van Valkenburgh, senior guard-forward, 5-11, 175; Earl McCrommon, junior guard, 5-6, 155.
Greenbrier's Melissa Lewis made a profound impact on her teams this season.
Guard: Michelle Swiec, Greenbrier freshman, 5-5. Led Greenbrier Middle School to a 14-0 record as an eighth-grader, and didn't miss a beat while moving up to varsity ball as a freshman. A pure point guard with all the intangibles.
Guard: Kim Leeds, Lakeside senior, 5-5. Three-year starter who ran the Lady Panthers offense and helped guide them to a 14-win season. Leeds averaged 10.5 points, four rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game.
Forward: Ansley Evans, Lakeside senior, 5-6. Perhaps the surprise player of the year in Columbia County. Evans averaged 13.1 points per game, which led the Lady Panthers. Good all-around player.
Forward: Sharday Taylor, Harlem senior, 5-9. The Lady Bulldogs struggled this past season, but Taylor was a huge bright spot. She averaged 13 points and eight rebounds per game.
Forward: Melissa Lewis, Greenbrier sophomore, 5-8. Lewis was just what the doctor ordered for Coach Garrett Black. Thanks to Lewis' 17 points and 11 rebounds per game, the squad set a school record with 17 wins.
Sixth Man: Sarah Beth McKinney, Augusta Christian sophomore, 5-9 center. McKinney averaged 17 rebounds and 8.7 points per game. She had 3 games of 25 or more boards including a 30-rebound game.
Augusta Christian: Jordan Little, 5-6, sophomore guard; Shanice Broadwater, 5-5, sophomore guard.
Augusta Prep: Abby Alexander, 5-6, junior guard; Mary Hannah Lynn, 5-9 junior center; Caroline Hull, 5-7, junior guard
Evans: Ashley Brodhecker, 6-0, senior center; Lauren Middleton, 6-1, freshman forward.
Greenbrier: Tiffany Blackburn, 5-8, freshman guard-forward; Kiley Moranski, 5-5, senior guard; Brittany Leverett, 5-5, sophomore forward.
Lakeside: Jamie Lake, 5-7, senior forward.
Players of the Year
Boys: Matt Scott, Lakeside. Scott put up some numbers that will stand in the county record books for quite a while. He averaged 18.7 points per game as a sophomore, 25.8 points as a junior, and 26.8 points as a senior. He totaled an astonishing 1,952 career points despite never appearing in the state playoffs. Scott also connected on nearly 300 3-pointers in his career - a mark that may never fall. Despite Lakeside finishing with a 12-14 record in Scott's senior season, that was a great improvement from the Panthers two wins his sophomore year. Scott will be playing on the next level. It is just a matter of choosing a school.
Girls: Michelle Swiec and Melissa Lewis, Greenbrier. It is hard to imagine that a freshman and a sophomore would share this award, but it's also hard to imagine a better pair of newcomers.
At point guard, Swiec ran the offense while averaging 13 points, four assists, and four steals per game. Lewis was a dominant inside scorer at times, tallying 17 points and 11 rebounds per game.
These two helped the Lady Wolfpack to the best record in school history. With these two leading the way the future looks pretty bright for Greenbrier basketball.
Coaches of the Year
Girls: Garrett Black, Greenbrier. It is odd that last year's Boys Coach of the Year would win the award on the girls side this year, but Black earned it. He had the guts to use three freshmen in major roles, including handing over the reins of point guard to a ninth-grader, and it paid off for Greenbrier, which posted a 17-8 record.
Boys: Richie Carnes, Lakeside, and Casey Dees, Greenbrier. This honor was a toss up.
Dees lost starter Ray Jones who scored 34 points in the season opener. Later, Dees lost two key players, Gavin Globensky and J.C. Jennings, during the season, but the Wolfpack still managed to win county bragging rights in his the coach's first season at the Brierpatch.
Carnes, meanwhile, guided Lakeside to 12 wins, which is not bad considering the Panthers won only two games just two seasons ago. Carnes faced undue pressure from fans and had to manage a team that counted so heavily on one player. As I said all year, it is not easy to coach a star, and Carnes made Lakeside competitive in a tough region.
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