The Greenbrier High School girls basketball team lost a nail-biter in Bainbridge during the weekend in the first round of the state playoffs.
The loss ended another solid season for the Lady Wolfpack. Greenbrier finished 23-4, and once again went unbeaten in Columbia County, going 10-0.
While there is disappointment at the loss in the playoffs -- as there is for each team that does not end its season with a state title -- Lady 'Pack players should be extremely proud. Not only did they have a great year, but they also were part of a legacy that will live forever at Greenbrier.
For years to come, fans will remember the Greenbrier teams of this decade. While some of the players were different each year, there has been one constant during Greenbrier's incredible run: the presence of head coach Garrett Black.
Black is stepping down as basketball coach to devote more of his time to his new post as athletic director. He will still handle duties as head coach of the girl's softball team. He also has a wife and five children to think about.
So we can all understand his move. However, it does not mean we have to be happy about it. As a matter of fact, the only people I can imagine will be happy about the move are the other three head coaches in the county.
It will be odd not talking basketball with Black each year. And folks, his job was a family affair. His dad, retired county coaching veteran Danny Black, handled most of the scouting reports for the 'Pack's opponents. Garrett's brother, Chris, made a bunch of those trips with his dad, too.
Garrett's wife, Beth, probably has seen more basketball than Dick Vitale during the last 10 years. She and Abby, Carsyn, Brett, Andrew and Brady --- the Black's children --- always were fixtures at Greenbrier's games. There was just something special about seeing the entire family together after each game. Our county, heck our country, could use a lot more families like this providing examples for our young people.
Now, there was much more to Black's time as head coach than just family involvement. There was plenty of success, too. Prior to the 2003-04 season, Greenbrier had never been to the state playoffs and a .500 record would have warranted a parade down Washington Road.
My how things have changed.
Black led a young 'Pack squad to a school-record 17 wins that season. He started two freshman and a sophomore, so the future was bright.
However, no one could have envisioned how bright. Here is a breakdown of the past four seasons for the Lady 'Pack:
2004-05: 23-8 (Made it to the Elite 8 in the state playoffs)
2005-06: 28-4 (Advanced to the Final 4 in the state playoffs)
2006-07: 28-4 (Sweet 16 in the state playoffs)
2007-08: 23-4 (Lost in round one of the state playoffs)
That's 102 wins and just 20 losses during the four-year stretch, with an Elite 8 appearance and a Final 4 trip to boot.
Perhaps more impressive has been Greenbrier's dominance in Columbia County. The 'Pack boasts an incredible 33-0 mark in the county during the past four seasons. Along the way, coach Black has had some good players. Michelle Swiec was a four-time All County performer, and either shared or won the County Player of the Year four times as well. Melissa Lewis was tremendous, earning All County honors three times.
However, no player over the past five seasons has gone on to play college hoops. Lewis chose to pursue another sport (volleyball), and several talented players chose to play softball in college. Swiec, perhaps the best player to ever play in the county, also was a superb student and she decided to focus on academics in college. The fact that he has not had McDonald's All-Americans or Division I signees further illustrates what a great job he has done at Greenbrier.
So, yes, coach Black will be sorely missed. He still will guide the softball team (which he led to a state title in 2004), but he will no longer roam the sidelines for the Lady 'Pack basketball team. While I completely understand the move and likely would have done the same thing, I'll still miss seeing him lead the 'Pack.
And I'll miss our basketball talks, too.
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