The Briarwood Academy basketball teams came back from the pre-season Garden City Classic basketball tournament last weekend in Augusta with only one win and one All Tournament player, but lots of valuable playing experience.
Junior Joseph Batrous, who scored 46 points for the Bucs in the tourney, was the only Buc named to the All Tournament team.
The Briarwood teams were scheduled to open the regular season with Thomas Jefferson Academy last Tuesday at Briarwood. The Bucs won't play again until Monday, December 12, when they travel to Louisville to again play Thomas Jefferson. Both B-teams will play, beginning with the girls at 4 p.m.
The two teams will have another rematch, this one with Augusta Prep, on Tuesday, December 13, at Briarwood. Games will begin with the boys' B-team at 4:30, followed by the girls' varsity at 6 p.m., and the boys' varsity at 7:30 p.m. The girls B-team will not play.
The Briarwood teams will not begin their GISA Region 1AA schedule until after the Christmas holidays.
By the time the third and final game of the tournament rolled around on Saturday, the Lady Bucs, who won the tournament last year, barely managed to come up with enough players to put on the floor, but, nevertheless, played an excellent ball game, according to Coach Clayton Parrish.
Missing six players who were participating in state cheerleading competition and two players who had to take the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test), the Lady Bucs had only eight of their 17 players dressed out and only one starter playing when they faced Augusta Prep on Saturday.
Despite their depleted ranks and Prep's home court advantage, the Lady Bucs held their own until the four quarter when they were outscored 23-13.
"I was very, very proud of that group," Coach Parrish said. "They went out and played really hard. The score was up and down throughout the first three quarters. We were ahead by one at the end of the third.
"We just ran out of gas in the fourth quarter and got outscored by 10 points. We just didn't have enough of a bench."
Four Lady Bucs had career highs in the 65-56 loss. Whitney Carani Carani scored 23 points for the Lady Bucs, followed by Katie Reese with 15 points, Macey Smith with 10 points, and Sarah Nutial with eight points.
The four other Lady Bucs present and playing were Ivey Thrift, Jamie Russell, Caitlin Rodgers and Cady Gilmer.
"This gave them some valuable playing time and gave them a chance to show me what they can do in a game situation," Coach Parrish said. "A lot of them will be seeing increased playing time."
The worst aspect of the game was the Lady Bucs' perennial problem of free throw shooting.
"We only hit nine of 20 from the free throw line," Coach Parrish said. "We need to improve on that."
The Lady Bucs, who ended up playing all three Augusta teams in the eight-team tournament, met and fell to Westminster School, 44-24, in the second round of the tournament on Friday.
In this game, the Lady Bucs were missing the six cheerleaders.
"It gave a lot of our younger players a chance to play," Coach Parrish said. "It was good in that respect."
The Lady Bucs played well throughout the game, except in the "killer" third quarter when they were outscored 15-2.
"We missed a lot of real easy shots. That's what ended up hurting us," Coach Parrish said.
Reese led the scoring with nine points, followed by senior Beth Gerlach with six points.
The Lady Bucs opened the tournament on Thursday by playing Augusta Christian School, the strongest team in the tournament and the eventual tournament champion.
"It was the first game, and we had a lot of inexperienced players who had to step into a starting role for the first time, and it showed," Coach Parrish said of the 65-32 loss. "They were just a very tough team to play our first time out."
Senior Beth Gerlach and junior Courtney Price were the leading scorers for the Lady Bucs with nine points each.
The Runnin' Bucs, like the Lady Bucs, started the tournament off on Thursday with the Augusta Christian Lions.
"It was tough, especially since it was our first game, playing in their gym in front of their crowd," Coach Christian Tiller said. "We were a little bit nervous, too."
Augusta Christian, larger than the Bucs in size as well as numbers, dominated the smaller Bucs in a 90-47 first round win.
Three Bucs hit in double figures. Sophomore Dave Joesbury scored 15 points, followed by junior Joseph Batrous with 10 points, and junior Seth Williford with 12 points.
The Bucs changed defenses and battled back from an early 15-point deficit on Friday to defeat Thomas Sumter Academy by four points, 60-56, in the second round of play.
Joesbury led the Bucs with 21 points, followed by Batrous with 20 points.
The Bucs win over Sumter threw them back into the winners' column against Pinewood Prep of Charleston, S.C., the number two team in the tournament.
"It was really unfortunate that we had to play the second-best team in the tourney that had just been beaten by the best team," Coach Tiller said.
Pinewood's team and players were much larger than the Bucs'.
"They had an athletic 6'8" freshman, and he could flat-out play," Coach Tiller said.
The Bucs managed to stay with Pinewood for the first four minutes of the game, and then it was all Pinewood.
The Bucs were led by Batrous who scored 16 points. Sophomore Hughlon Mays came off the bench and played an "inspired" game, according to Coach Tiller.
Overall, Coach Tiller was pleased with his team's play.
"We played with a lot of character and a lot of heart, and we played as a team," he said. "Hopefully, we can turn it around (next week when the regular season begins) and start to play our game."