This weekend, Columbia County's hoops teams will be taking part in holiday basketball tournaments. To preview the tourney action, I've decided to rank the schools on their early performance on the hardwood.
1. Evans - The M&M Boys (Hank McCladdie and Glen Miller) have been steady for the Knights. And players including Jerome Manuel are starting to help out. They have knocked off Greenbrier and Harlem.
2. Greenbrier - Reggie Rice has put up some big numbers. His future is in football, but on the high school level he has shown that he can be the 'Pack's go-to-guy. Chris Johnson and Gavin Globensky will need to provide some offensive help if the 'Pack want to repeat as the county's top team.
3. Harlem - On any given night, the Bulldogs can beat any team in the county. Kim Chambers' crew gave Evans all sorts of trouble in an early season matchup. They play in a tough region, but their balance makes them a tough opponent.
4. Lakeside - The Panthers have the county's best guard, but Earl McCrommon has not had much scoring help this season. When McCrommon's on, he can keep them in games, but when he is not, they are in trouble.
5. Augusta Christian - Marty Griffin lost virtually his entire team from a year ago, including big men Mark Hermann (6-6) and Jamal Womble (6-5). This year the Lions are smaller, but they still have some decent athletes.
6. Augusta Prep - The Cavaliers lost Glen Miller to Evans, and he took his 13-point average with him. He would have been one of the top players in the GISA. With him, the Cavaliers would have been ahead of ACS; without him, they face a tough season.
1. Greenbrier - This was an easy pick. The Lady Wolfpack could be primed to break the school record for wins established a year ago, and they could make a run at the school's first state playoff appearance. They have a deep team with terrific outside shooting, the county's best point guard (Michelle Sweic) and the best scorer in the county (Melissa Lewis).
2. Harlem - This was a tossup. However, with junior April Woodard, Harlem has a player capable of changing any game. Therefore, on any given night they are dangerous.
3. Augusta Christian - The Lady Lions have gotten big-time play from Jordan Little. She is one of the top guards in the county. Teammate Sarah Beth McKinney provides the rebounding and defense.
4. Augusta Prep - Prep should have one of its best teams ever. The Lady Cavs have great experience, led by point guard Abby Alexander. They start five seniors and should make a run at the GISA playoffs.
5. Lakeside - Head Coach Drew Shelton will be forced to play some young players. However, freshman forward Alex Cassagnol does not play like a ninth-grader. This team struggles at times to score points. They will need their young players to mature fast.
6. Evans - This one is a mystery. I think the Lady Knights have enough talent to be ranked No. 2, but for some reason they have not been able to put it together. Point guard Bekah Gibbs does a nice job running the team. Also, Lauren Middleton, Tyiesha Butler and Shereall Parks are decent scoring options.
On the girls side, there is Greenbrier and then everyone else. Teams Nos. 2-6 are very close. It will be interesting to see which teams will make their move up the rankings.
As far as the boys go, Evans needs point-guard play and some help for McCladdie inside. If they get it, the Knights could be a playoff team in AAAA. Greenbrier is up top with Evans, but the Pack need to play big inside because of their lack of size.
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