Following a pair of heartbreaking losses to Jacksonville, I asked Austin about his 400th career girls basketball win at Gaston just a few days prior. Austin, not one to make a big deal out of much, opened up a little about that win – and then some.
He had read about the milestone victory his good friend and mentor Tommy Lewis had achieved last Monday.
Lewis, who now coaches boys basketball at Piedmont, had just won his 500th career game with a 58-56 victory over the Cherokee County Warriors, and the milestone got Austin curious about his own career record.
A quick look from the chart he keeps inside his desk drawer revealed Austin was also one win away from his own milestone – his 400th career win coaching the Lady Panthers.
Fittingly, the team next up on the Lady Panthers’ schedule was longtime rival Gaston, and their latest battle there last Tuesday didn’t disappoint. Spring Garden escaped with a 43-41 victory.
“When they were in our area, we played 16 times in four years. Eight of those 16 was for some kind of championship,” Austin said. “For it to come against Gaston, and for it to be the game it was … it’s always a pressure game, it always comes down to the buzzer, it always comes down to a big play. For that to be my 400th win, that just made it that much nicer because (Gaston) Coach (Tonya) Bogle has made us a lot of what we are over those four years. Her teams have helped me get that, not because we’ve beaten them sometimes, but because she’s made us work hard at practice. It all ties into that.”
And there’s soon to be another area basketball coaching milestone at Cedar Bluff. Joe Carpenter, now in his 29th season, is just two wins away from 500 in his career.
“We’ve got some good coaches around this county, and I hope people recognize that we’ve got some coaches who kind of go that extra mile,” Austin said. “There may be a little more glamour and a little more money in some other places, but we’ve got some people who stick with it.
“Russell Jacoway, just look at what he’s done at Sand Rock. That community still thrives. I hope everybody respects what Coach Carpenter’s done. He not only has done this in basketball, but he’s a dang good track coach.
“I think all of us, in a way, have made each other better. I appreciate what other coaches do to make us better. Lisa Bates, Coach (Travis) Barnes at Centre, I think we all make each other better. I think if there was only one good team in this area, there wouldn’t be as much success that comes from that one team as there is from all teams in this area.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself, Coach Austin. We truly are blessed in this area with not only some great coaches, but also, our kids have some great role models to look up to.
Cedar Bluff senior outside hitter Audrianna Hargitt verbally committed to play volleyball at Gadsden State Community College on Friday, according to Lady Tiger coach Tiffany Ferguson. No date for her signing has been set.
Hargitt helped lead the Lady Tigers to a 30-19 record and a berth in the Class 1A Super Regionals this season.
The Cherokee County Invitational Basketball Tournament schedule has been set. The tournament, hosted by Spring Garden, will be played Dec. 20-22. Admission is $5 per person.
The opening-round games on Dec. 20 will be played at two venues: Cherokee County High School and the Gadsden State-Cherokee Arena.
Games at Cherokee County High School that day are Spring Garden girls and boys against Gaylesville at 4:15 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. respectively. Cherokee County girls and boys will then take on Sand Rock for the 6:45 p.m. and 8 p.m. games.
Over at the GSCC Arena, the Woodland girls battle Collinsville at 4:15 p.m., followed by Piedmont boys against Collinsville at 5:30 p.m. Glencoe and Cedar Bluff hold the court for the next two games. The girls clash at 6:45 p.m., followed by the boys’ battle at 8 p.m.
The GSCC will host the remainder of the tournament’s games on Dec. 21 and Dec. 22. Friday’s 8-game slate begins at 10:15 a.m., with the final game of the day slated for 7 p.m.
The tournament’s final day begins with the girls consolation game at 2:30 p.m., followed by the boys consolation game at 4 p.m.
The girls championship is set for 5:30 p.m. Dec. 22, followed by the boys title game at 7 p.m.