A jammed thumb on his shooting hand put Augusta Prep senior Chris Burch on the sidelines during basketball practice last week. While the rest of the Cavaliers continued with their drills, the injury gave Burch time to reflect on what the season might hold.
He couldn't make up his mind.
"I have no idea," he said. "We lost a key player. We have only four returning on varsity. We've got a lot of speed and some pretty good outside shooters, though. Really, I just don't know."
The "I don't know" factor is following several basketball teams in Columbia County this preseason. A scrimmage this past week and a season-opening tournament at Westminster last weekend gave the Cavaliers an initial idea of what to expect. Head coach Mike Guthrie said this season, as in past years, defense is everything.
"That's the key this year," he said. "Our best offense is a good defense. That's going to be in the Augusta Prep game plan as long as I'm here."
Guthrie, in his third year as head coach, has brought stability back to a boys basketball program that not long ago went through three coaches in a four-year period.
Now with the exception of three seniors on the team, Guthrie has players that have gone their entire high school careers with him. The first task of that squad this season is to replace last year's leading scorer Michael Crosland.
"That will be done corporately," Guthrie said. "We don't really replace players. We have a totally different team, and there will be a lot of scoring opportunities. Instead of Crosland's 20 points per game, I'm asking a lot of players for six, eight, or 10 points per game each."
Sophomore Jim Hull, the team's second leading scorer last year behind Crosland, will return and serve as the Cavaliers' main offensive threat. Junior Josh Segura also started last season and will return along with senior defensive specialist Spencer Morgan.
"Jim Hull is probably our best scorer and most natural player, but we'll have a more balanced offensive attack," Guthrie said.
The Cavaliers will next travel to Briarwood Academy for a game Tuesday before playing at home in the annual Garden City Classic Nov. 30-Dec. 2.
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