COLUMBIA – He started running back on defense on the balls of his feet. Each stride extending longer than the next while he brings his knee close to his chest and his hands bend downward.
Columbia College senior Devin Griffin only does this when he gets in a groove.
Co-coach of the year: Bob Burchard, Columbia
Co-player of the year: Devin Griffin, Columbia
First team all-conference: Devin Griffin, Columbia
Second team all-conference: Derrick Dilworth, Columbia
Honorable mention all-conference: Patric Massey, Columbia; Pep Stanciel, Columbia
“At the end of the day, this is a show,” Griffin said with a smile. “You want to keep it sportsman-like, but everyone pays their money to come see a show.”
After shooting 1-for-8 in the first half, his coaches didn’t mention his shooting. But Griffin is a senior leader, and this was his last game on his home floor. He’s a scorer, and he said he wanted to step up.
When the Columbia College men’s basketball team plays Freed-Hardeman, it’s a different game.
In the two regular season matchups, each team won at home. In the conference championship Tuesday at the Arena of Southwell Complex, the Cougars scraped past the Lions in overtime 86-78, bringing home their third AMC championship in a row.
Griffin started strutting back on defense with about 14 minutes left in the second half, knocking down his first 3-pointer of the game. On the following possession, Griffin drained another 3 to bring the Cougars back from their halftime deficit and tie the game at 50.
Back on defense, Griffin lifted his shorts halfway up his thighs and clapped his hands twice. Columbia assistant coach Matt Brock slowly signaled for Griffin to calm down, but it was ineffective.
The nearly packed building rose to its feet and was the loudest it's been all season. On the next offensive possession, Griffin launched another 3-pointer, but this one was off the mark. He ran back and smiled. So did most everyone in the building.
From then on, senior Derrick Dilworth’s shots started falling. He entered the second half with just two points. The second half, he got into the lane for some layups, banked in a 3 and knocked in free throws, finishing with a team-high 20 points.
But one play he regretted was the final one of regulation. He was dribbling down the court with a couple teammates to his right and two defenders in front of him. Dilworth rose up to shoot with three seconds left and missed.
The Cougars tightened up on defense in overtime. They only allowed Freed-Hardeman to score four points.
After the game, Griffin was awarded co-conference player of the year and was selected to first-team all-conference.
“I’ve been trying to get this award for so long,” he said, referring to being named co-player of the year.
And he walked away with his awards and the team championship trophy, jersey untucked, signing autographs and posing for pictures.
Still doing what he could to please the fans.
Supervising editor is Erik Hall.