This was an interesting year in Columbia County girls basketball. Greenbrier High School continued its dominance over the rest of the county, but other teams started to show some improvement.
Harlem, led by a talented freshman, showed glimpses of terrific basketball. Lakeside also substantially improved over last season.
On the private school side, there were some really good individual performances during the season that were hard to overlook.
Here is the 2007-08 Girls All-County Basketball Team, as I see it:
Sara Oland (Senior, Greenbrier)
Oland averaged 17.5 points a game and was one of the quickest and most explosive players in the county. She could take over games when she got hot. She finished her four years as a varsity starter, racking up 105 wins.
Laura Kopald (Senior, Augusta Prep)
Kopald led the county in scoring by pumping in 21.4 points per contest. She finishes her career as one of the all-time leading scorers in school history. She carried the Lady Cavaliers the last few seasons.
Elizabeth Alewine (Sophomore, Augusta Christian)
Alewine burst onto the scene this year with several huge offensive games.
She posted games of 29 points twice and averaged more than 16 points a game. She did this despite battling an early-season knee injury, and then a season-ending injury (to the other knee) late in the season. She is certainly a player to watch for the next couple of seasons.
Nicole Wells (Junior, Harlem)
Wells seems like she has been at Harlem as long as Jimmie Lewis, but she is only a junior. She had some help inside from younger sister Ebony this season. That allowed Nicole to showcase a solid all-around game. She finished the season averaging 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists a game.
Ebony Wells (Freshman, Harlem)
It is not often that a freshman makes the All-County list, much less First Team, but Wells is deserving. She averaged 14 points and nearly eight rebounds a game for coach Amy Slagle. The sky is the limit for this young lady.
Alex Cassagnol (Senior, Lakeside)
Cassagnol averaged just nine points per game, but her specialty was defense and rebounding. She did that well, hauling in 8.5 rebounds and blocking nearly three shots a game.
Amaura Brandt (Eighth grade, Augusta Christian)
The above line is not a misprint. Brandt is only an eighth-grader, but she was one of the county's top scorers, averaging 15.7 points a game. She is a solid all-around player.
Janay Moore (Senior, Greenbrier)
One of the area's top long-range shooters, she stepped up in several big games for the 'Pack this season. She helped guide Greenbrier to a 21-0 start and a 25-4 record overall.
Kaila Hunt (Sophomore, Greenbrier)
Another young player who played a major role for her team. Hunt might not be a 20-points-a-night player (yet), but she is solid all around. With the graduation of Moore and Oland, she will have to carry a bigger load next season.
Dorian Freeman (Junior, Greenbrier)
Freeman made the list more for what she meant to the 'Pack off the floor. She was the leader in the locker room and helped keep the team together. In her three seasons with the varsity, the 'Pack stand at 82-9. She also was one of the county's top rebounders and interior defenders.
Nikki Calloway -- Greenbrier
Allianna Hulse -- Greenbrier
Ayannna Fairbanks -- Greenbrier
Courtney Sumner -- Evans
Kacee Camp -- Harlem
Carolyn Hennecken -- Lakeside
Michelle Thruman -- Lakeside
Lindsey Banks -- Augusta Christian
Sarah Sussman -- Augusta Prep
Also keep an eye on Greenbrier freshman Shelby Burns. She did not play much down the stretch, but talent wise, she is as good as any of the freshmen in the county, with the exception of Ebony Wells.
Player of the Year: Sara Oland (Greenbrier)
This was a tough call. The Wells sisters at Harlem were terrific, and a couple of other players had bigger numbers, but Oland gets the nod. She averaged more than 17 points a game, but the most impressive stat is wins and losses.
As a four-year varsity starter, she was a part of four consecutive state tournament appearances, including runs to the semifinals and quarterfinals. She did not lose a game against a Columbia County opponent during her high-school career, going an incredible 31-0.
Coach of the Year: Tie
Garrett Black (Greenbrier), Mo McCormack (Lakeside), Amy Slagle (Harlem)
I know you are thinking this is a cop-out, but it's not. I could have easily just picked Garrett Black and no one would have complained. He led Greenbrier to 25 wins, despite losing Michelle Swiec, Brooke Jackson and Tiffany Blackburn. They have not lost to an in-county opponent since the 2003-04 season.
Also, this was his final season coaching the basketball team, which would have made his selection even more easy. However, I thought the improvement that Harlem made under Slagle and Lakeside under McCormack deserved recognition, too.
I hope everyone will give Slagle a fair shake because, in my opinion, she did a good job this season. The Bulldogs improved from six wins in 2006-07 to 13 wins this season.
She is young and can do a good job at Harlem with the young players they have returning.
The story is similar for McCormack, who led a Panther team that won just three games last season to a 14-11 record this year.
Her team played its heart out each time I saw it, and that is a mark of good coaching.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.