LYNCHBURG, VA -- This past week 86 boys' and girls' basketball teams from 10 different states participated in the Homeschool East Coast Championships held in Lynchburg, Va. In a well-run, competitive event that showed how much the homeschool sports community has grown over the years, 24 of those teams participated in the varsity girls' division.
The event started with four pool-play games, then progressed to bracket play based on win-loss record with the top teams competing in the 6A division. Here’s more from the 6A, 5A and 4A championship games.
Division 6A: Carolina Cougars Down Durham Flight, 49-38
The Division 6A bracket tournament final featured two North Carolina teams -- the Durham Flight and the Carolina Cougars. Both teams boasted very young, but talented rosters, that featured eighth, ninth and tenth-graders. Go to Photo Gallery.
In the first quarter, the lead changed hands several times before Durham began to gain an advantage when they hit four three-pointers in the second quarter, three of them by Emily Sherron, to give the Flight a 25-17 lead at the half. The Flight also had a size advantage with 6-3 eighth grader Kailey Marcy hauling down the rebounds and swatting away blocked shots.
But the Cougars made some major halftime adjustments and outscored the Flight 20-9 in the third quarter, taking the lead at the 1:31 mark on a three-pointer by eighth-grader Leah Church, who scored a game-high 21 points and nailed five treys in the game, with four of them coming in the second half.
“We made some halftime adjustments and went to a triangle-and-two on their best scorers,” said Carolina head coach Ricky Moser. “I knew our shots would start falling, but defensively we tried to stop their best players.”
In the final quarter, Kailey Macy and Stormi Abernathy scored back-to-back buckets for Durham to make it a one-point game. But Carolina continued the defensive pressure, holding the Flight scoreless for the last six minutes of the game while putting up 12 points of their own to win the Varsity Girls' Championship title, 49-38.
Carolina freshman Aleksanderja Kuilts added 17 points in the win, while Sherron led the Flight with 12 points and Abernathy and Rebecca Lobach added nine each for Durham.
“Defense wins championships,” said Church about the win. “This is amazing. This is what you play for all season. It’s just an honor to play with this team.”
|Emily Stone of the New Life Storm brings the ball up the court under pressure from Grace Potter of GCAA. (Photo by Kelly Kline) Go to Photo Gallery|
Division 5A: New Life Takes GCAA, 50-48, in Overtime Thriller
In the most exciting game of the day, the 5A championship needed extra minutes to decide the winner between the New Life Storm and the Greater Cabarras Stallions (GCAA). These two teams had met just over a week ago in the North Carolina Homeschool State Championship where GCAA won by five.
In the first half, the Stallions jumped out to a 10-point lead after out-scoring the Storm 20-8 in the second quarter. Nine of GCAA's points in that run came from Grace Potter who posted a game-high 22 points on the day.
In the second half, he Stallions led by as many as 12 points,but the Storm began to rally in the fourth quarter, hitting several buckets from beyond the arc and closing an 18-9 run with a three-pointer by Hannah Carlson with six seconds in regulation to force overtime, with the score tied at 43 apiece.
In the extra frame, the Stallions struck first on a three-pointer by Potter, which was answered by a trey from Hannah Carlson to knot the game at 46-46 at the 2:18 mark in overtime.
On the next play, the Storm forced a turnover, then went the other way and found Hannah Grace MacDonald who sank yet another long-ball, this one from the left corner, to make the score 49-46 and give the Storm their first lead of the game since the second quarter.
“That was huge,” said New Life head coach Aaron Miller of the go-ahead basket by MacDonald. “That’s Hannah Grace -- she’s our leader, she’s been plagued by injury most of the season, but when it mattered, she dug down deep and knocked it down.”
After a free throw pushed the Storm lead to four points, Karly Long hit a bucket for GCAA with 5.3 seconds on the clock to cut the deficit to two points. The Stallions stole the inbounds pass, but Kaitlyn Holm's shot at the buzzer rimmed out as New Life held on for the 50-48 overtime win.
“It feels so good,” said MacDonald, who scored eight points in the game. “We lost to them in the state championship. It was a hard-fought game, but this win feels so good, Especially to be able to finish my senior year like this is amazing.”
The Storm were led by Shelby Sufferage who posted 12 points and 16 rebounds while her younger sister Sarah also put up a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds.
|Ashley Jackson of the Knoxville Ambassadors brings the ball up the court under pressure from Kelly Bessinger of the Low Country Wilcats. (Photo by Kelly Kline) Go to Photo Gallery|
Division 4A: Knoxville uses second-quarter run to put away Wildcats, 45-29
In the Division 4A-bracket championship game, the Low Country Wildcats were leading the Knoxville Ambassadors, 10-7, after the first quarter. But Knoxville out-scored its foe from South Carolina, 14-2, in the second quarter, including a 7-0 run to close the half, and took a 21-14 advantage to the locker room at the halfway mark.
The Ambassadors continued to swell the lead throughout the remainder of the game. Led by nine second-half points from Ashley Jackson, who put up 20 in the game, Knoxville out-scored Low Country, 12-5, in the final quarter for the 45-29 win.
Kaitlin Bradley added 12 for the victors, while Kelsi Pajaro paced the Wildcats with 15 points.