Hanging by a thread

The Cougars’ loss in the AMC title game puts season in doubt.
Sunday, March 4, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 1:45 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

LeAnn Fossum didn’t want to feel that way again.

The way she felt when her Harrisburg High School basketball team lost by one point in the district final her senior year.

But Saturday night, she did.

The fans cheering as time ticked away weren’t members of the Columbia College faithful. And the plaque being raised at midcourt wasn’t held by a Cougar.

The No. 4 seeded Harris-Stowe Hornets beat the No. 2 seeded Columbia College Cougars 78-58 at Southwell Complex, winning the American Midwest Conference tournament final and claiming an automatic bid to the NAIA National Tournament.

“That one ended my high school career, and this one ends my basketball career,” said Fossum, pausing to fight back her emotions after the game.

Maybe. The Cougars (26-7) still have a chance to land an at-large berth in the national tournament.

By halftime, Harris-Stowe led 36-29. Fossum had scored 18 at that point. The next highest scorers for the Cougars, Helen Ogunjimi and Amber Lewellen, had three points apiece. Fossum ended the night with 28 points.

“LeAnn Fossum stepped up and played a very good game,” said head coach Mike Davis. “As a senior there was a sense of desperation.”

AMC All-Conference awards were handed out after the game. Fossum earned first-team honors.

“They don’t mean anything when you don’t win,” Fossum said after the award ceremony.

“She’s been parts of great moments here. She’s been a part of lots and lots of wins, and she’s won over 100 games in her career,” Davis said.

Teammate Amber Lewellen received several awards. She was AMC Most Valuable Player, Newcomer of the Year and first-team all-conference.

Lewellen, who led the AMC with 18.9 points per-game, was held to 9 points on Saturday.

“I think we have a good shot at the national tournament. That’s the only thing keeping me positive,” Lewellen said.

Davis said that nothing is guaranteed but he is hopeful his team will receive an invitation Tuesday.

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