At halftime of Augusta Christian's boys basketball game last week, the Lions led by seven points.
Their opponent, Alleluia Community School, had the shooters to mount a second-half comeback. But from the start of the third quarter, Augusta Christian extended its advantage -- 9, 11, 12, 14.
The Lions ran away with a 68-44 victory, the type of game coach Marty Griffin and Augusta Christian would like to play throughout the season.
"That's kind of what we want to be characteristic of our team, that we don't just sit on a lead and kind of stall, but extend that lead throughout the whole game," senior Evan Wells said. "Especially against good teams when they're going to be able to have (big) runs. That's why we've been doing so much extra running."
Running has been part of everything the Lions have done during their few practices thus far. Griffin doesn't have them toe the line and run sprints. Drills running the half-court offense or a certain defense are started by running the court in transition. The Lions start each practice with running drills that serve a basketball purpose, including "advantage break," a drill that begins two-on-one and ends in a five-on-five break.
"All of our drill work is pretty grueling anyway," Griffin said. "We just get it within the course of our practice."
Griffin wants his team conditioned to be able to push the entire game, a goal allowed by the Lions' depth. Augusta Christian returned seven of its nine varsity players, and Griffin feels comfortable swapping players often.
"That's our goal this year is to run a lot more," senior Austin Lewis said. "We're in better condition."
Lewis is one of several Augusta Christian players still getting their legs on the court after having played football. The Lions center attended three basketball camps during the summer -- at the University of Georgia, the University of South Carolina and Georgia Tech -- where he said he learned to play the post and skills more fitting a small forward, where Lewis expects he'll play if he makes a college roster.
Lewis and junior Christian Croft give the Lions presence inside, while guards Wells and Brant Herzwurm are among those who run the perimeter.
Wells, a senior who was also team captain as a junior, is the Lions' floor leader. Fellow captain Herzwurm is probably the Lions' best outside threat.
The Lions received a boost with the addition of freshman K.J. Armour and sophomore Michael Clifton, two young players who have contributed early in the season.
That extra depth, and the Lions' five seniors, have heightened expectations among Augusta Christian players and their coach.
Griffin expects Heathwood Hall to be the class of SCISA Region I-AAA, but he said a few teams should have a shot.
"Returning so much from last year, we feel pretty good about what we will try to accomplish," Griffin said.
The first two games probably showed a little of what the Lions want to look like in January. Augusta Christian would like its season to follow the pattern set against Alleluia -- to not let up and to improve throughout.
"By the time region starts, we'd really like to be hitting on all cylinders," Wells said. "Our goal is to win region this year and to go from there."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.