Columbus State University

Kiersten Reid 'confident' in taking over for Jonathan Norton

Columbus State assistant coach Kiersten Reid , second from right, will coach the team on Saturday at Augusta. 
 (Anne Appleton/Columbus State University)
Columbus State assistant coach Kiersten Reid , second from right, will coach the team on Saturday at Augusta. (Anne Appleton/Columbus State University)

Columbus State assistant women's basketball coach Kiersten Reid has played for and coached next to head coach Jonathan Norton for the past four years. She has listened and tried to learn as much as possible during that time.

But nothing prepared her what happened Wednesday night when Norton fell face first to the floor in front of the bench during the fourth quarter of the game at North Georgia.

"It was obviously a scary moment for all of us," Reid said. "He kind of passed out. When things happen like that, time slows down. We got the game stopped. We got him rolled over, and he was responsive pretty quick. A lot of the players were emotionally distraught. We said a quick team prayer."

After Norton was taken out of Memorial Gym on a stretcher, CSU briefly discussed asking for the game to be suspended. But Reid said after talking to CSU's graduate assistants Asha Alexander and Chatil Bradford, that the team wanted to play. CSU, which held a 2-point lead at the time, went on to lose in overtime.

Norton was released from North Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, Ga., on Thursday. The reason for his collapse has not been disclosed, but a heart attack was ruled out.

The Lady Cougars (12-2, 6-1 Peach Belt Conference) return to the court Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Augusta (12-4, 5-2). Reid will once again be in charge of the team as Norton didn't accompany the team on the trip Friday.

But he did speak to the team before it left at 12:30 p.m.

"I saw him this morning," Reid said. "He wanted to talk to the team. We were leaving at 12:30, and he came about 12. It was good to see him. It was a relief. We had talked last night, but it one thing to talk to someone and another to see them."

"I know he went back and forth (about making the trip). He thought about having someone drive him and he would sit on the bench. I told him I wanted him to be well, and that we could manage. I told him I was confident we could handle it."

Reid said she will be a little nervous.

"This is not an easy position," she said. "But I have been following him around for the past three years, so nothing is going to change. None of the other roles on the team are going to change.

"I have learned so much from him. He is the only coach I have learned from. I feel pretty confident."

CSU"s next game will come on Tuesday at home against Lander. CSU athletic director Todd Reeser said it is still to be determined if Norton will return by then.

"We will look to see if he is ready to go," Reeser said. "We will take it day by day. If he is ready to go Tuesday physically, then it will be Tuesday. If it needs to be later, it will be."

Subhead hery

The CSU men had one of their most impressive wins of the season on Wednesday, routing North Georgia by 28 points, 95-67. Cam Baker (Kendrick) led the way with 27 points.

"It was a complete game on Wednesday," CSU men's coach Robert Moore said. "We shot the ball well again, but I was happy with our defensive play against a team that can score in bunches."

The Cougars (12-2, 6-1) are tied for the Western Division lead again after Young Harris lost on Wednesday. The Cougars, who have won six straight road games, face a red-hot Augusta team that has won five of six to improve to 8-6 overall and 4-3 in the conference.

"Augusta is always very talented and well coached," Moore said. "It's a hard place to play in and we know that it's going to be a challenge Saturday."

The game will feature two of the top five scorers in the PBC. Augusta's Keshun Sherrill leads the league averaging 24.4 points per game. Baker is fifth at 20.6.

Kevin Price, 706-320-4493, Follow Kevin on Twitter@lesports