MS Champions Crowned – Girls and Boys Win SEMSAC Tournament Championship

Lulu Brase, Assistant Athletic Director
The Hannah Center was center stage to two high-energy, and nail-biting Falcon victories on Thursday night as both the Middle School Girls and Boys Basketball Teams won the SEMSAC Conference Championships!
On the girls’ side, a match-up between Fayetteville Christian and O’Neal was sure to provide highlights as their previous match-up came right down to the buzzer. Early on the Falcons struggled with nerves a bit, seeing their offense stay stagnant in the first quarter. Things quickly changed in the second quarter, as Gianna Maheu’s 10 2nd quarter points and a 3-point buzzer beater by Lillie McIntosh sparked the Falcons to an 18-15 lead at the half. The third quarter saw both teams lock down on defense, in a low-scoring quarter seeing Fayetteville Christian take a 23-20 lead into the 4th quarter. As in the first contest, both teams kept the game close throughout the fourth quarter creating an electric environment throughout the Hannah Center.

With just 28 seconds remaining, the Falcons found themselves down 30-28. Out of timeouts the Falcons executed to perfection finding Emeli Michael on the wing to bury the game-winning 3-pointer with 17 seconds left. Fayetteville Christian recovered quickly pushing the ball in transition, but the quick hands of Sofie Itegie deflected the ball past two FCS players and out to Gianna Maheu, who hit Emeli Michael for the game-sealing layup as time expired. Cheers erupted and fans stormed the court to celebrate the Falcons’ 33-30 victory over Fayetteville Christian.

Coach McHarney reflected afterward, “I can’t say enough about these ladies…so special. This group’s motto since the first day of practice has been ‘together’. They have ‘held the rope’ for one another since day one and were locked in tight as a unit tonight when it mattered most. In a game that could easily have gone the other way, our ladies fought to the very end and would not be denied. I am so proud of them."

Gianna Maheu led the Falcons with 18 points in the victory and was joined by Emeli Michael (10 points), Lillie McIntosh (3 points), and Sofie Itegie (2 points). The Falcons finish the season as both the conference regular season and tournament champions for the second consecutive season.

The excitement continued as the Middle School Boys took the court next hosting Village Christian in the Middle School Boys SEMSAC Championship.

A back-and-forth contest saw both teams trade the lead going into the half with the Falcons up 27-24. The third quarter saw the Falcons earn key defensive spots behind a sound defensive game strategy taking the contest one possession at a time. Coach Millard shared, “the players remained disciplined and patient on the offensive end finding great looks down the stretch. They really bought into our plan, and it showed in their execution.”

Going into the fourth quarter the Falcons maintained an 8-point lead at 42-36 and focused on defensive pressure and physicality in the waning moments of the contest. All night long, the Falcon post players – Christian Lyle, Jordan, Alexa Muller, and Joseph Lucas – dominated the boards on both ends finishing defensive plays and earning the Falcons extra offensive possessions.

In the end, the Falcons capped off an extraordinary night of basketball sealing the 47-43 victory over Village Christian to win the SEMSAC Tournament Championship.

The Falcons were led by Will Haarlow, who led all scorers with 21 points on the evening. Rounding out the scoring were Wells Kuester (9 points), Jacob Lindsey (5 points), Alex Muller (3 points), Joseph Lucas (3 points), Jordan Cole (2 points), Christian Lyles (2 points), and Thomas McFadyen (1 point),

“This team was riddled with the right kind of student-athletes to be successful at the end of the season,” reflected Coach Millard. “All of the game performances included 63% or more of the team scoring points, every game.  The team maintained a ‘practice game’ mentality all season long.  This team was successful not just from 2-3 really good players, but a bench that was equally talented and extremely competitive as well. Ultimately, this team was successful due to their discipline and commitment to improving their skills and gameplay and leaving it all on the floor.”

Congratulations to both the Girls and Boys Middle School basketball teams on a tremendously successful season and their SEMSAC Tournament Championships!

Press Release Photos: MS Championship Press Release Pics
The O'Neal School admits students of any race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, genetic information, citizenship, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other basis protected by law to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, genetic information, citizenship, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other basis protected by law in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.