Shouts bounced off the walls in the hallway next to the gym at Amherst County High School last Thursday evening. These were sounds of jubilation amid an otherwise quiet atmosphere inside the sparsely populated building.
The cheers followed a momentous couple hours for the Amherst boys basketball team. After nearly a year of waiting, they’d finally gotten back on the court with teammates, donning crisp, white uniforms emblazoned with their program’s maroon lettering for their first game of the season. And, of course, the fact they’d just beaten one of the Seminole District’s heavyweights, Liberty Christian Academy, certainly helped.
“It was amazing,” said Amherst senior Brett Waugh, the team’s leading scorer.
After trailing for the game’s first 17-plus minutes, Waugh and the Lancers took over in the second half, going on to capture a 53-47 victory over the Bulldogs.
“Glad we got [to play],” Amherst coach Segar Jordan said, admitting he had doubts about whether he’d even be able to lead his team in a game this school year amid the coronavirus pandemic. “And glad we got the W.”
Jordan’s squad was powered by Waugh, whose 7-0 scoring spurt to open the second half gave Amherst the lead and set the Lancers on the path to victory.
Waugh, who finished with 16 points, cut Lancers’ deficit to 26-24 when he somehow knocked down a short shot in the paint as he was fouled and fell the ground. He completed the three-point play, then added to his tally with a layup off an LCA turnover and two free throws resulting from a foul on his putback attempt.
“We were kind of slumping at the beginning of the half,” Waugh said. “I wanted to come out and finish some buckets and put some points on the board.”
The Lancers’ lead was 29-26 after he knocked down the shots from the charity stripe. LCA and Seth Hildebrand pulled even at 38-all by the end of the third quarter, then again at 42-42 halfway through the fourth quarter. But Amherst, thanks to its offensive rebounding and ability to get out in transition, pulled away late.
ACHS (1-0) scored 10 straight over the next three minutes, including six points in a one-minute spurt. Waugh and the Lancers, like others around the area, are hoping they can get as many games in as possible while dealing with the unpredictable nature of the season.