Coach took Panthers to new heights

Jim Blaylock/Staff
Moe McCormack: Lakeside girls basketball coach led the Panthers to their first state playoffs in the 22-year history of the school.



Lakeside players came up to Moe McCormack after their season had ended in a state playoff loss at Statesboro and told their coach something few Lakeside teams have been capable of boasting.

"We could have played with them ... we want to keep this going," McCormack remembered them saying.

Lakeside's best season in school history ended with that loss to one of the best teams in the state.

For guiding the Panthers to their first playoff bid in the school's 22-year history, McCormack is The Augusta Chronicle Girls Georgia Coach of the Year.

The Panthers, who went 18-11, defeated Josey for the third time in the Region 3-AAAA Tournament to clinch the bid. In their next game, star player Carolyn Hennecken tore her ACL and was lost for the playoffs, yet the team still played a competitive game at Region 2-AAAA champion Statesboro.

"They wanted to keep playing -- they weren't tired or ready to give up," said McCormack, who has coached at the school for five seasons. "It's good that they feel that way. They're catching on.

"They all felt confident we could start trying to compete with the big boys."

McCormack said this for two reasons: her team was smart enough to understand the things they needed to execute against faster, quicker teams and the group has gotten comfortable enough with McCormack to pick up on the things she wanted them to absorb.

In addition to a three-game sweep of Josey, Lakeside knocked off region runner-up Butler, started the year 6-0 and went 7-1 against the rest of Columbia County.

"The girls are starting to understand my style, my intensity," said McCormack, a 1981 Aquinas graduate and former Augusta College player. "They're learning to not take things personal instead to try and learn the things we go over. Sometimes, when girls have a female coach they tend to take things more personal.

"I think they realized I am wanting them to get better. ... This group gets it."