LAWRENCEVILLE — McConnell Middle School’s Sydney Harris was a seventh grader when Snellville Middle School’s girls basketball team eliminated the Tigers the Eastern Division championship last year.
As an eighth-grader, Harris and her teammates learned what the victorious side felt like in Wednesday’s championship game at Central Gwinnett High School. She supplied seven points while Ashanti Bryant led the team with 13, helping McConnell out-last Snellville 43-41.
“It’s one of our last games together, so it was amazing,” Harris said. “We were all ready.”
Joy Harris added 10 points for the Tigers.
Snellville led 11-10 after the first quarter, but McConnell tied the game 21-21 at halftime.
McConnell led most of the way in the second half, but never by more than one or two possessions. McConnell’s biggest lead was 35-29 at the 4:46 mark in the third quarter, but Snellville continued to close the distance. The Tigers took a 40-36 lead on a layup from Bryant when Snellville responded on the other end with a 3-pointer.
McConnell led 43-41 in the game’s closing seconds when Snellville inbounded the ball with a chance to win or tie the game. The Comets pushed the ball up the court but mishandled it in the corner. The ball rolled out of bounds, returning possession to McConnell.
The Tigers ran the remaining 1.2 seconds off the clock and made their trip to the Gwinnett County Championship official.
McConnell (13-1) entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed. The only loss the Tigers recorded during the regular season was to Snellville.
“It was breath-taking,” Bryant said. “We have to keep working hard, push through and get better in practice every day.
McConnell will play in the county finals at Mountain View High School on Tuesday. The girls game is set to tip at 5:30 p.m.