Because it approached its American Midwest Convention closing sport — its third look within the title sport in 4 years — Columbia Faculty girls’s basketball was on the most well liked streak of its season.
The Cougars had gained their earlier seven video games, with six of these by 10 factors or extra. The final time the Cougars had gained eight in succession was in a run between Dec. 31, 2018, and Feb. 12, 2019.
Standing between Columbia and its sixth AMC event title was Lyon Faculty, a current thorn in Columbia’s aspect. The Scots went 10-1 in convention play, completed forward the Cougars to the highest seed, are the No. 18 crew within the NAIA and had crushed the Cougars in each of their earlier two matchups.
Prefer it has for a lot of the season, the Scots would frustrate the in-form Cougars once more.
Lyon defeated Columbia 66-58 at house in Batesville, Arkansas, to win its second AMC Championship on Monday, as Paige Kelley ran amok in an in any other case resilient Cougars efficiency, and the Lyon protection confirmed why it has one of the best document within the convention.
“Small particulars win and lose championships, simply on the whole tonight there was a few occasions the place our particulars damage us and allowed Lyon to get a play,” Columbia coach Taylor Possail stated. “No purpose for us to hold our heads. We went on the street versus a really effectively coached crew and had a chance within the fourth quarter.”
Kelley was in imperious kind. The freshman was 12-of-16 from the sector en path to a game-leading 28 factors.
A lot of Columbia’s defensive consideration was on the AMC’s second-top scorer, Jade Giron, who they managed to maintain seven factors decrease than her season common, however little else. Giron ended the match one help in need of a triple double with 12 factors, 10 rebounds and 9 assists.
The Cougars’ concentrate on Giron additionally opened up room for Kelley, who punished the Cougars tremendously.
“Paige Kelley for them is clearly an elite expertise,” Possail stated. “I’m excited for the battle between Paige and Mallory (Shetley) going ahead.”
To pair with Kelley and Giron’s blistering offense, Lyon’s protection was disciplined and distinctly uncharitable.
The Scots ended the sport with 28 defensive rebounds, eight steals and simply 10 crew fouls because it held the Cougars to their lowest factors whole since Jan. 23.
“They’re one of the crucial well-coached defensive groups within the league. They get after it,” Possail stated. “Each level was robust. Each groups are very stout defensively. Credit score to them, they’d an incredible sport plan, they had been bodily with us.”
Lyon additionally successfully contained Columbia’s explosive bench.
The story of Columbia’s seven-game successful streak to the title match had been the Cougars’ bench — nicknamed ‘the piranhas’ by Possail — which dismantled program after program, racking up jaw-dropping factors totals sport in, sport out.
The Cougars subs had outscored their final three opponents benches 120-14, however Lyon managed to carry them to a relatively low 21 factors.
“Lyon is simply so stout defensively,” Possail stated. “The piranhas I believed had been aggressive at occasions, however at occasions we missed alternatives with that group. That quantity (21 factors) tells you proper there. That group has been averaging forty a sport.”
Columbia’s season doesn’t finish with this defeat, nonetheless.
Courtesy of reaching the AMC closing, the Cougars earned a nationwide event bid. The opening spherical of the NAIA girls’s basketball nationwide championship is March 12-13. The Cougars will know their opponent Thursday.
“This is a chance for us to develop and study,” Possail stated. “Issues had been rolling alongside for us, we had been feeling fairly dang good, and now we’re gonna must study. We’re gonna go to the movie, we’re gonna see among the errors we made, and see what we will and may’t regulate.”