Chris Reynolds can't shake his celebrity status.
As a senior on the Glenn Hills basketball team, Reynolds helped lead the Spartans to the school's first Class AAA state championship. They won the title over a month ago, but Reynolds still can't get away from the fans.
"I still get it. When I'm out, people come up to me and say congratulations," he said. "At school -- even at church. The older people still come over and tell me how proud they are of us."
Whether he's roaming the halls of his high school or the pews of House of the Lord Pentecostal Church, it's well-deserved praise. In a five-month stretch, the team took a simple game and turned it into common ground around which the entire Glenn Hills community rallied.
Reynolds isn't the only one who's experienced it.
"Even yesterday, I stopped to get some gas, and an old Glenn Hills graduate stopped me, and he was so proud of what we did. The community as a whole has embraced this championship," Glenn Hills coach Richard Wallace said. "When I've really had a chance to sit back and think about the season, well, we had a heck of a run."
Reynolds, the Augusta Chronicle Georgia All-Area Boys Player of the Year, was just a piece of the championship pie that made up the team. But without that piece, Wallace said the title may not have come.
"He's been a tremendous player for us all year. He can shoot the basketball, and his intensity on defense is tremendous," Wallace said. "From Day One we put him on the varsity and JV, and then from his 10th grade year on he's started for us."
Wallace recalled those first few days of Reynolds' high school career with a smile. Even then, four years ago at a summer workout in North Augusta, the Glenn Hills coach said he knew he had a potential star.
"I said, 'That Reynolds kid is going to be a fine basketball player,' " Wallace said. "I knew he just had to get stronger, and he'd be tremendous."
Reynolds said he was just hoping to make the team.
"I remember coach called me slim," Reynolds said. "I wasn't real nervous. I knew I had four years to get better."
That's exactly what he did. The 6-foot-5, 185-pound athlete helped the Spartans win two region titles -- and now a state championship. He led the team in scoring as a senior and helped lengthen the Spartans' postseason run with a crucial 20-point, 12-rebound performance against Hart County in the state semifinals.
Reynolds managed only seven points in the state title game, but he didn't seem to mind.
"It didn't matter if I scored 20 again or 10 or nothing," he said. "As long as we get the win."
His coach heard that and smiled.
"That's why we won," Wallace said. "All of them. They all love the game of basketball, and that did it."
Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or email@example.com.