Columbia County is one day away from basketball season.
The annual Columbia County Tip-Off Tournament will take place at Greenbrier High School this year. The two-day tournament begins Monday with the Evans boys taking on Harlem in first-round action.
For the Knights, it's a chance for redemption.
Evans, the team with the most wins over the past three years, suffered an upset at the hands of Greenbrier in the first round of the tournament last year.
"The kids came out and played with a lot of heart that first game," Greenbrier boys coach Casey Dees said. "That was a big win for us."
The Knights jumped out to an early 11-1 lead after the first quarter, but Greenbrier rallied to win 49-45.
"I think we got too confident last year," Evans boys coach Kevin Kenny said. "We felt like we were the better team, and it hurt us."
Greenbrier went on to win the tournament championship with a 58-49 victory over Harlem in the finals. The Wolfpack's first-round upset over Evans began a yearlong battle in an already established rivalry.
"Greenbrier has always been a rival, but those games last year were great," Kenny said. "By the time we got to the third game, it was tremendous. That third game was better than the other two, and that's hard to believe."
Evans avenged last year's early exit in the tip-off tournament with a pair of dramatic regular-season wins over Greenbrier. One win came on a buzzer-beater, the other in double-overtime.
This year, Greenbrier and Evans won't face each other in first-round action. The Knights will begin the tournament with a 5:30 p.m. game against Harlem. Greenbrier will play host to Lakeside at 8:30 p.m.
"Actually I like playing in the early game," Kenny said. "If you win you get to sit back and watch who your opponent's going to be in the championship."
Of course, a rematch pitting Greenbrier and Evans in the finals isn't a guarantee. Harlem and Lakeside will be playing for bragging rights and a chance to knock off a county rival.
"All four teams are going to be improved," Kenny said. "I know Lakeside has a solid team. I think it's pretty wide open this year."
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