One of the nice things about where I work is that even though we legally have a grades 6-8 school and 9-12 school, we are on the same campus and share some facilities and faculty making us, for all practical purposes, a 6-12 school. The other great thing is that our middle school conference tournament is always the week before our high school team starts post-season play, so I get to go with them in their quest for a championship. This year was especially sweet. Our girls had made it to the state Elite Eight many times but never farther. This season we finally got past that barrier and faced a team we had beaten by one point in overtime in a Christmas tournament. We won that game by 10 to get to the state finals. I'm pretty sure that everyone outside of our school thought we had no chance in the finals. Our opponent had been ranked #1 all season, came into the game with a 29-2 record and on a 19-game winning streak. They had won their first three state tournament games by an average of 28.7 points. They would scare you to death if you saw them getting off the bus. However, we thought we were better. While they were much more athletic and had a couple of really good 6'1" posts, we thought we had more and better shooters and ball handlers and superior depth. I had not seen them in person prior to the game, but after watching them warm up, I knew we were better. I walked over to some of our players and said, "We're a lot better than this team." Their response? "I know. I'm not nervous at all." Our plan was to play a packed in 2-3 zone and dare them to make shots from the perimeter. Even though they were athletic we thought we could beat them down the floor in transition. We also had the single best player on the floor. The game opened with their getting the tip and scoring on the first possession. They came back on the next possession with a FT to go up 3-0. We then scored on our next two possessions to go ahead 4-3 and we led the rest of the game. We were ahead 17-8 after the first quarter and 36-19 at halftime. Things were still good in the third quarter and we led 50-31 going to the fourth. Unfortunately, we went 0/10 from the floor to start the fourth while they were getting desperate and physical and knocking the ball loose. (The officials had a let-them-play attitude the entire game, which did not work to our advantage.) They cut the lead back to nine with 4:13 to play. We got stabilized there, though, and pushed it back into double figures and kept it there until 1:59 was left. We finally went to the FT line for the first time in the game with 48 seconds to play and made 5/7 down the stretch, which was good enough. They made a three to cut it to five with 14 seconds to play, then after we made a couple of FTs, they scored again with 3 seconds left. The final was 61-56. The game plan was perfect. One of their wings had 26 points but they were only 1/13 from beyond the arc. One post had 13 points but the other was scoreless. In fact we outscored them in the paint 32-24. We also out-rebounded them 46-44. Our best player had 21 points, eight rebounds, four steals, three assists, and one blocked shot. We had nine players score to their five, and our bench outscored theirs 12-2. Even after the game many people thought it was a fluke that we won. But we played better and harder (especially the first three quarters) and we didn't think it was a fluke at all. The best part for me was being there on the bench, watching the girls that I had started with in sixth or seventh grade win a state championship. Priceless. Beyond priceless, if that is possible. Our final record was 25-7. We had five seniors and in their four years in high school the team posted a record of 100-20. That is the second class in a row that will graduate with at least 100 wins. I am really proud of those ladies. An aside: the game was on TV and you don't realize how long TV timeouts are until you are in a huddle and out of things to say. You look out at the officials and they give you the "stay put" signal. That really chopped up the game. I'll certainly take the outcome, though.