Nick Fortenberry kept getting good long-range looks at the basket and he kept torching the nets.
In the opening game of the Garden City Classic Tournament at Augusta Prep, the Augusta Christian Lions guard put on an impressive shooting display, sinking nine 3-pointers while scoring a game-high 33 points as the Lions beat Curtis Baptist 94-86 on Thursday.
It was the third time in three contests that the Lions’ high-octane scoring machine scored over 90 points.
The Crusaders (2-4) were beating the Lions at their own game, getting out in transition and breaking the full-court press for easy baskets in the early going.
Lions head coach Marty Griffin thought his squad was playing hard but not doing what they needed to defensively.
“The defense wasn’t rotating,” he said. “We didn’t value the paint and gave up way too many buckets.”
The Lions trailed the Crusaders 20-11 with 1:39 left in the first period when Fortenberry started to go to work. He sank the first of three 3-pointers that sparked a 17-4 run, giving the Lions a 28-24 lead with 6:05 left in the half.
“The first three minutes we weren’t scoring,” Fortenberry said. “I came off the bench and I wanted to get the team going.”
From that point on, each time the Crusaders would tie the game, the Lions would pull ahead once more, never letting the Crusaders gain
After the Crusders tied the game for a fourth time at 59, a quick 7-0 run, fueled by a K.J. Armour putback, a Fortenberry 3-pointer and a Madison Williams layup, gave the Lions a 66-59 lead with 1:20 to play in the third.
The Crusaders’ Micah Ryles hit a 3-pointer to close the lead to 70-66 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but that would be as close as they would get as Fortenberry answered right back with another 3-pointer.
The Lions depth was another factor as nine players scored. Ashton Grant was the only other Lion in double figures, scoring 23 points.
Working against the Lions’ aggressive pressure defense, the Crusaders did a good job of getting to the free-throw line, but converted only 17 of 34 attempts. It especially hurt late in the game.
Trailing by 10 with just over five minutes to play, the Crusaders went on a 6-1 run to get within 84-79, but went 0 for 6 from the foul line during that same stretch.
Brian Wilson led Curtis Baptist with 25 points, Justin Wilson had 16, while Ryles and McKai Ray each had 11.
A Williams 3-pointer killed the Crusaders rally and Fortenberry finished his stellar shooting performance with three free throws.
“The basket looked pretty wide today,” Fortenberry said. “I was focusing on the back rim and it went in.”