COLUMBIA — As the clock wound down in the second half of the championship game, Columbia College sensed the American Midwest Conference Tournament title was in reach.
Some of the Cougars who don't normally play got a chance to see action in the final minutes. Their teammates enjoyed the view from the bench.
- Bob Burchard, AMC Co-Coach of the Year:Bob Burchard
- Jordan Dressler, AMC First Team All-Conference and AMC Player of the Year
- Taylor Evans, AMC First Team All-Conference
- Devin Griffin, AMC Honorable Mention All-Conference
Senior point guard Henrique Medeiros stomped his feet on the floor, while junior teammate Marquette Murrell stood smiling and clapping at the end of the bench.
As the clock expired on the Cougars' 80-46 victory over Hannibal-LaGrange, each of Columbia College's assistant coaches went down the bench, hugging, embracing and congratulating the players.
Tuesday night's game at the Arena at Southwell Complex had no drama. There were no last second heroics or buzzer-beating shots.
Instead, most of the second half was a chance for Columbia College to savor another championship to go with its AMC regular season title.
"I think when you look at what we've done and you look at how we play, a lot of season's have little downs in them, but this team has been level for a long time," said head coach Bob Burchard, who was named the AMC Co-Coach of the Year after the game. "They were level throughout this tournament too."
After the game had ended and the AMC All-Conference Team had been announced, the players were presented the tournament championship trophy. Medeiros held the trophy high above his head, walking over to the student section to show it to the fans.
He was in the center of celebrations. Even when freshman Taylor Sutton took his turn cutting down the net, it was Medeiros who yelled "Freshman!" at Sutton, who was having trouble doing his part.
Medeiros led the Cougars on Tuesday night, shooting 4 of 5 from 3-point range on his way to 18 points and 6 assists.
"It's a great team to be on, we get along great and we are just a big family," Medeiros said. "I think we showed it out there today. We play as a team, we play together and that's all we do."
Senior Taylor Evans also had an impressive game, scoring 13 points. Evans said he tried to not let the emotions of his last home game get to him.
"I really tried not to think about it at first," Evans said. "But, then in the second half with about eight minutes on the clock, I just kept looking at the clock like 'man I'm about to be subbed out for the last time ever.'"
With the victory, the Cougars receive an automatic bid to the NAIA Championships. The 32-team tournament will be held March 14-20 at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City.