Another basketball season began last week with the Columbia County Tip Off Tournament. The biggest news was that Evans' boys and Greenbrier's girls won the tournament championships, but that wasn't all fans took away from the two-day event.
Here are a few observations I made after seeing Columbia County's teams play for the first time this season:
Best free throw practice
Lakeside freshman Carolyn Hennecken was put to the test at the charity stripe in Monday's game against Greenbrier. In the second quarter, Hennecken went 8-for-9 from the free-throw line. The team took 14 foul shots and made 11 of them in the quarter and finished 13-for-18 in the game.
"We end every practice with free-throw running drills," Lakeside girls basketball coach Maureen McCormack said. "The better you shoot, the less you run. I think we have a nice shooting team this year."
Best fans (inside)
It's hard to say who had the biggest student section Tuesday night. Greenbrier and Evans were both well-represented for the boys championship game, but I'd have to give the nod to the Wolfpack fans for this round.
Best fans (outdoor)
I'm not exactly sure what a few die-hard Lakeside fans were doing in the Greenbrier parking lot before the tournament started Monday, but I did see a couch and what appeared to be a badminton net. Now that's tailgate dedication.
Best clutch shot
It was lost amid the headlines of Evans' championship win in a one-point game over Greenbrier, but I'd say the biggest shot of the tournament actually came Monday in the Evans-Harlem boys game. Harlem was thinking upset and had a 57-55 lead with less than a minute to play when Evans' Derek Rodriguez nailed a clutch 3-pointer from the corner for the final lead change of the game. The Knights went on to win by five.
Best varsity debut
The talk of the girls portion of the tournament was the pair of six-foot post players on the Harlem squad. The two girls, Nicole and Ebony Wells, are sisters. Ebony, a freshman, was playing in her first ever varsity games. She led all scorers with 17 points in Monday's win over Evans and 19 against Greenbrier on Tuesday.
Only one athlete cracked the 20-point mark in a game during the tournament. It was Harlem's Cedric Boatner, and he did it twice. Boatner scored 21 points in Monday's loss to Evans and topped that with a 26-point performance in a win over Lakeside on Tuesday.
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