The Great Eight: 1992-93 Augusta Lady Panthers

By: Todd Kelsch

The 38th District Champion Augusta Lady Panthers of 1992-1993 will be honored Saturday, January 14th, at Augusta Independent Schools as the current Lady Panthers take on Bellevue. The junior varsity plays at 6 pm and the varsity at 7:30. The ceremony will take place following the junior varsity game.

The Lady Panthers of 92-93 embodied “Panther Pride.” Having only eight players on the varsity roster, the Lady Panthers relied on hustle, determination, intelligence, perseverance and togetherness.

Led by Coach Don Irvine, the Lady Panthers finished the 1992-93 regular season with 11 wins and 9 losses. They had four wins and two losses against 38th District opponents, with the two losses coming against cross-county and district rival Bracken County.

The Lady Panthers were led in scoring that season by Rachael Hamilton, who averaged 23 points per game and scored 2,122 career points. Point Goddess and floor general Dana Bach averaged 10.7 points per game and is a member of the 1,000 point club. Kathy Cox averaged 9.5 points per game and center Mandi Fay averaged 7.5 points per game.

The 1992-93 38th District tournament was held right here at Augusta Independent in the Panthers Den. Benches were located in the east end zone to allow for more spectator seating. There were even seats set up on the stage.

The Lady Panthers faced the Deming Lady Devils to open up their postseason. They had beaten the Lady Devils in the season opener at home 73-37 and then again on the first of February 71-58 in Mt. Olivet. The Lady Panthers left zero doubt against Deming in the district semis, coming away with a 73-46 victory behind 36 points from Rachael Hamilton.

Bracken County defeated Pendleton County in the other district semifinal matchup which set up a third meeting between the cross-county rivals. Augusta had lost the first meeting at home by three, 57-54, and then were blown out by the Lady Bears on February 8th in Brooksville, 77-41. 

The district championship matchup with rival Bracken County was set. The game featured a unique storyline that could only be featured in a Bracken/Augusta battle. Augusta freshman guard Amberlei Appleman was going up against her own father, Bracken County Lady Bears Head Coach Michael Appleman.

Both teams fought really hard in this very memorable game. The game featured several lead changes, a halftime buzzer beater and superb bench play. When the final horn sounded, the Augusta Lady Panthers had secured their first district championship since 1979 on March 5, 1993 with a 49-46 victory over Bracken County right here in the Panthers Den in front of 500+ screaming fans.

This group of warriors have become known as THE GREAT EIGHT amongst Augusta basketball historians and set a precedent for both boys and girls programs with their toughness. Thank you for the memories, Rachael Hamilton Miles, Dana Bach, Kathy Cox Lippert, Mandi Fay, Stacey Curtis Fite, Amberlei Appleman, Angie Blevins Boyd, Christa Curtis Stewart, manager Kristi Johnson, manager Damian Smithers, Assistant Coach Robin Kelsch and Head Coach Don Irvine!