Playing this past weekend in the Garden City Classic, a three-day, eight-team private-school tournament, the Augusta Christian Lady Lions faced some stiff competition.
After a first round 65-32 win over Briarwood, the unranked Augusta Christian Lady Lions found themselves face-to-face with SCISA No. 5 Thomas Sumter Academy.
"The whole team was really pumped," Augusta Christian junior Casey Brush said. "They were ranked, and we weren't even on the list."
All the pregame excitement, however, dissolved when Augusta Christian starting senior Sarah Beth McKinney went down with a severe ankle sprain in the first minute of the game.
The injury sidelined McKinney for the weekend, but gave Brush and senior Jordan Little the chance to shine.
The two starters were named to the Garden City Classic All-Tournament team as they led the Lady Lions to a 38-29 upset over Thomas Sumter and a second-place finish in the tournament.
"The way it's ranked it's a big upset," Augusta Christian girls basketball coach Keith Walton said, "but we never think we're an underdog."
Little, a three-year starter, has been a main scoring threat for the Lady Lions in past years. The senior already holds the school record for 3-pointers made in a game (5) and in a season (40), and her 66 career 3-pointers puts her only seven away from the school record.
"The whole team knows Jordan's always there," Brush said. "She's our leader."
With most of the Lady Lion contributors returning from last season's 16-10 squad, Little no longer has to carry the full offensive load.
"There's a ton of pressure off me," Little said. "I like knowing that if I have a bad day our post players can step up."
Brush is the most recent example of a Lady Lion post player stepping up to the challenge. Now four games into the young season, Brush leads the team in scoring (11.5 points per game), rebounding (14.5 per game), and steals (5.8 per game).
"She's a hard worker," Walton said. "I'm proud of how she's come along since last year."
To say Brush's numbers have improved since last season is an understatement. The junior spent time between the junior varsity and varsity teams last year and scored eight points all season long. In the Lady Lions' season opener against Alleluia this year, Brush doubled last season's total with a game-high 16 points.
"I wasn't really expecting to start this year," Brush said. "I just wanted to contribute so I got in the weight room all summer."
The result is a junior forward who can bench press more than 200 pounds.
"She's an amazing post player," Little said. "It's unreal how committed she is."
Augusta Christian will continue their season Friday with a road game at Patrick Henry Academy. The Lions and Lady Lions will return home the next day to play host to Faith Christian Academy.
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