Thursday, February 27, 2014
North Augusta’s boys basketball team has won back-to-back region titles, but, after being knocked from the playoffs at home, the Jackets are left dissatisfied.
North Augusta was defeated by Goose Creek 55-51 on Saturday. Goose Creek, who played for the 4A title a season ago, was able to do just enough to escape with the win.
“They’re a good basketball team, they’re a good program that played in the state finals last year,” Al Young, North Augusta’s head coach, said. “They’ve been through this, they know what this is all about. They did what they needed to do by playing good defense and being able to score. I don’t think their scoring was overwhelming, nor the defense, but they did what they needed to do. They had a desire to win, you could see it in rebounding and on the 50/50 balls. When you play against good teams and programs, they’re going to work hard and get done what they need to get done.”
North Augusta (19-6) was able to rely on athleticism and good shooting for most of the season, using a strong defense and opportunistic offense to earn home court advantage for its two playoff games.
“I thought we had, for the most part, pretty exciting basketball,” Young said. “We’ve got kids who are pretty athletic and they played with some excitement. We played well, at times, defensively. We played with a lot of desire and intensity and we did well offensively. We shot 3’s, were able to run the ball and did well in transition. I thought it was a pretty exciting season for us. I thought the kids did well.”
Now that the season is done, Young has to find replacements for his senior players, especially Christian Davis and Keyon West, who played major minutes for the Jackets.
“It’s always tough replacing any player who contributes the way those guys did,” he said. “We have to find somebody who will step up and do that. We feel like we have kids in our program who will step up and do that. Hopefully they’ll have a good summer and offseason and come back to replace those guys.”
Returning for North Augusta is a dynamic core of players, led by All-State selection Chandler Harrison.
“We’ve got to go even harder next year,” Harrison said on replacing West and Davis. “It’s going to be hard to replace those guys, they did a lot for this team. I’m starting to work for next season now. We want that ring. We’re trying to make it all the way next year.”
The senior class for the Jackets concluded their careers with back-to-back region titles, which is Davis’ biggest accomplishment.
“I am most proud that we won region for a second time in a row,” he said. “I’m going to miss just battling every night with my boys at practice every night and becoming a team on the road games and at the Christmas Tournament.”
Young already has a goal in mind for his team next season, a three-peat in the region.
“That will be our goal,” he said. “The good thing is that we have a lot of guys coming back with experience and they will have another year of growth and understanding in the system. Hopefully they work very hard in the summer and offseason, trying to understand what your goals are and what it will take to make it happen.”
T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for the North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.