In a rivalry junior high hoops matchup for the ages, the Columbia Middle School eighth grade boys topped Waterloo Junior High School in the Cahokia Conference championship game Thursday at WJHS with a basket at the buzzer.
The game was tight the entire second half, with a packed house at WJHS looking on in nervous excitement.
Waterloo tied the game at 41-41 with 12 seconds remaining and after nearly losing possession, Columbia inbounded the ball with just two seconds left on the clock.
The Eagles got the ball to Jonah James, who sank the game-winning shot to give Columbia a 44-41 victory.
Columbia finished its season at 18-1 and the conference title. Waterloo ended its season at 15-4.
“Being a Waterloo grad and actually winning this tournament as a player at Waterloo made this game so special,” CMS head coach Jon Wehrenberg told the Republic-Times. “I have so much respect for Matt Mason and the Waterloo program. They are first class.”
Wehrenberg, who eclipsed the 500-win milestone in December, added that his team played earlier this season in the gym used for the filming of the movie “Hoosiers,” which featured Hollywood’s “ultimate buzzer beater.”
The coach praised the play of Zach Anderson, who came off bench to play “the best game of his career.” Jackson Holmes and Trey Hemminghaus played big in the post, Wehrenberg added.
WJHS seventh graders complete perfect season
The seventh grade Bulldogs finished a perfect 14-0 after defeating Triad in the final seconds, 34-31, to end the season.
The team outscored opponents 617-272 on the season, and first year head coach Chris Sandheinrich said all 12 players played a vital role on the team.
“Even though we scored a lot of points, I attribute our success to us playing great defense,” he said. “I am mostly proud of this team for never taking any opponent for granted. The team came to play each and every game. They never looked past the game right in front of them.”
The leading scorers for the Bulldogs were Nixon Hergenroeder at 10 points per game and Ian Schrader at 9.9 points per game.