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Augusta Christian girls repeat in region


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 After countless drives to the basket Tuesday, Lindsey Banks was glad when she could finally pass the ball and watch.

The Augusta Christian guard helped lead the Lions through three quarters before teammate Amaura Brandt caught fire to put away region foe Heathwood Hall.

"Thank goodness," Banks said after the Lions claimed the 53-42 home victory. "I was getting so tired."

The Lions locked up their second consecutive Region 1-AAA title. A victory Thursday at home to end the regular season would give Augusta Christian (18-4, 9-0) a perfect region record.

Brandt, a sophomore and daughter of USC Aiken women's basketball coach Mike Brandt, poured in 15 of her game-high 26 points during the fourth quarter. She made three of her five 3-pointers during the final quarter and all four of her free throws attempts as the Lions went from down a point to the final margin after a 23-point outburst the final eight minutes.

Augusta Christian completed a sweep of its region rival from Columbia.

It was the Highlanders who denied Augusta Christian a perfect region record during the 2009 season, though the Lions would win the region title. The game Tuesday was a measure of revenge.

The Lions won handily the first meeting in Columbia, but Augusta Christian coach Keith Walton knew Heathwood's play had been uncharacteristic.

The Highlanders led by seven during the second quarter and by four with less than two minutes left in the third quarter. But coach John O'Cain's team could not weather Brandt's barrage.

"It was good defense, but a better shooter," O'Cain said. "You can tell she spends time in the gym outside of the season."

Brandt has indeed earned a reputation as a gym rat. She was to complement Lions standout Elizabeth Alewine, until the senior guard went down with a knee injury early in the season and was lost for the year.

Brandt emerged as the Lions' top scorer, but Banks on the perimeter and Annie Cave inside make it difficult for teams to key on one player.

"If you told me we would be doing it the way we're doing it, I would have been like, 'No way,'" Walton said. "These girls are resilient. They didn't hang their heads."

Banks called the region title a small goal, and said the Lions have eyes on the state tournament.

A last-second shot at Hilton Head Christian knocked them out the first round in 2009.

"Our main goal is state," Banks said.

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