Crusaders coach led team on rare semifinal run

John Spurlock

 

On one side, getting so close only to lose could be excruciating.

But from the other, more positive end, it’s a sign Curtis Baptist can play at the elite level.

Advancing to the state semifinals for the first time in more than a decade, the Curtis Baptist boys basketball team lost by a single point to eventual champion Frederica Academy.

For coach John Spurlock, The Augusta Chronicle’s Independent boys basketball coach of the year, he sees the result as fulfilling something that was possible: a good run in the GISA Class AA state tournament.

“I thought we had potential,” he said. “It just had to come together, and fortunately at the end of the year it did.”

A father of 11 children, Spurlock coached one of his sons, Aaron, this season. While both say practice can be intense, Spurlock leaves “coach” at practice and becomes “dad” at home.

Aaron, who said his dad was the reason he had begun using his left hand more for basketball, was one of four players to average at least 9 points per game. Three of those players were seniors.

With junior Brian Wilson’s 34 3-pointers and senior Cole Swanson scoring inside, Spurlock’s questions about scoring often weren’t about if there would be enough to win. Instead, they were about which player would lead the team that night.

“We had a well-rounded team,” Spurlock said. “We could play outside, we could go inside. It was a pleasure to coach, knowing you had not just one player to go to.”

But with a collection of seniors ready to move on, the Crusaders will need a new class to lead.

However, after his team got so close to playing for a state championship, Spurlock hopes the disappointment leaves the Crusaders hungry for more.

“I think that our younger kids have seen what success can do,” Spurlock said. “While it’s something different to get to that next level of play, I think it’ll be something that drives them through the summer and into the fall for next year.”

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