The disparity on the benches couldn't have been much bigger.
On the home side, Westside boy's basketball coach Marvin Fields sat with 30 years experience as a varsity head coach. On the visitor's bench, Lakeside's Ryan Morningstar, in his first year of coaching varsity basketball, came in with two games under his belt.
Although the coaching experience alone may not have entirely made the difference, Westside came away with a 66-55 win Tuesday night in its home opener.
"It is different for me," Morningstar admitted after the game. "The speed is different at the varsity level, but we have a young team so it's different for a lot of the kids too. We're adapting together."
Meanwhile, Fields began yet another season at Westside with little time to do any adapting. The Patriots play their first Class AA Region 3 game on Saturday.
If their season-opener was any indication, Westside will be ready for the early region schedule. The Patriots had a 23-8 lead after the first quarter.
"We have high expectations for this group," Fields said. "I've heard we are in the chasing position behind Swainsboro and Jefferson County in the region, but I think we'll be fine if we keep getting better each time out."
The Patriots will have help from two new sources this season in their quest for another state playoff appearance. Senior Scott Adams, a transfer from the Washington area, poured in 16 points while sophomore T.J. Ramsey, who played sparingly last season as a freshman, also hit the 16-point mark.
Fields said Ramsey's contribution was the difference in the game. After leading by 16 points to start the second half, Lakeside whittled the advantage down to five points with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter thanks to a Blake Brandenburg 3-pointer. However, Ramsey immediately followed with a rebound and put back to expand the lead and repeated the effort twice later in the game.
"I knew he was capable of playing like that," Fields said. "If he wasn't down there inside late in the game we would have been in trouble. He had a lot of key put backs for us underneath the basket."
Reach Billy Byler at (706) 863-6165 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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