Winning just two games last season, the Columbus Signature Academy — Lincoln Huskies shocked the Elementary Basketball League on Saturday, winning the tournament championship 36-34 against the Richards Raiders at Columbus East High School.
The fifth- and sixth-grade Huskies had lost twice this season to the Raiders, who were attempting to win back-to-back titles.
“I told our girls that the pressure wasn’t on us, so just go out there and have fun,” Huskies coach Jeremy Emmitt said. “I am definitely proud of these girls. This is a great feeling.”
Richards had a 15-13 lead at the half, but the Huskies had built a 30-24 lead late in the third quarter before the Raiders’ Mikayla Reeves (nine points) stole the ball and hit a driving bucket to close her team’s deficit to 30-26 going into the final quarter.
The Raiders kept that momentum going, scoring the first six points of the fourth quarter to take a 32-30 lead. Richards’ Annie Anderson, who led her team with
12 points, keyed the run with a three-point play.
The Huskies fought back, though, and opened a 36-33 lead when Ciera Simpson knocked down a shot with 1:35 remaining.
CSA-Lincoln would not score again, and had to withstand a flurry of Raiders’ free throws. Richards missed seven of eight free throws in the final 1:24.
“We should have won that game,” Richards coach Chris Anderson said. “We put ourselves in a position where we had to make those free throws.”
Although Anderson was hoping his girls would win a second consecutive championship, he said that there are lessons to learn in losing a tough game as well.
“And we haven’t lost a game in two years,” he said.
The Huskies’ Brooke Bruin sparked her team with a game-high 13 points. Kaitlyn Dougherty scored 10 points for the champs, and Alexa McKinley had six points.
Kaylyn Bates had seven points for Richards.
The game was an intense contest throughout with both teams applying huge defensive pressure.
Neither team fared well at the free throw line. The Huskies were two of eight while the Raiders finished 14 of 27.