NORTH AUGUSTA - There was a multitude of reasons for the Augusta Boys Club basketball team to let up during its final Nike Peach Jam game Friday afternoon.
Coming into the tournament, because of late notice on availability, individual players were called without being able to practice once together before play began.
The squad had already played two tight, energy-filled contests, including a double-overtime victory Wednesday.
And when they stepped on the court Friday, they realized they were up against a team of giants - the height differential was quite visible to anybody in attendance.
However, as Augusta coach Chad Cook sees it, there's one intangible his players have that can't be measured.
"Size means something, but heart means a lot too," Cook said. "I've been doing this for five or six years, and I've never seen a group of kids play as hard or be as fearless as these kids."
Despite facing quite a tough matchup on the final day of pool play in the Under-16 division at Riverview Park, the Augusta Boys Club fought back numerous times to keep the game close. But the St. Louis Eagles stayed strong, defeating Augusta, 64-59, thanks to a clutch final few minutes from Scott Suggs.
The Eagles' forward not only found his stroke on several second-half shots, but also came up huge at the free-throw line, going 6-for-6 during the final two minutes to clinch the victory.
Had St. Louis (2-1) not sealed the game late, Augusta (1-2) was ready to pounce on the momentum with two diminutive guards who were shooting lights out.
At times, it seemed as if Patrick Meyers and Hakeem Adams - both of whom played at Josey High last season - were trying to one-up each other on 3-point distance. Both hit shots from at least 25 feet, more than 5 feet from the edge of the arc. But both also played intense defense, fighting off the height disadvantage.
"When you're smaller, you just have to play with more enthusiasm and fight through it," said Adams, who outdid his backcourt mate by one point, finishing with 17 points to lead the team.
WHAT: Nike Peach Jam
WHERE: Riverview Park, North Augusta
GAMES: Semifinals for Under-16 division begin at 10 a.m. with championship game at 6 p.m. Semifinals for Under-17 division are at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. with championship game at 8.
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