Back in 2015-2016, New Covenant’s Girls Varsity Basketball coach Joe Canney sensed an opportunity. “We were in the midst of our inaugural season and things were going OK but we were getting beaten quite a bit,” Coach Canney recently reflected. “We only had two wins so far so I really wanted a signature moment for our first season.” With Lighthouse Christian School visiting for a Senior Night game Coach Canney thought this might be the moment. “I knew we would have a big crowd and I knew we were improved from when we lost to them by more than 20 earlier in the season.” Four quarters and 40 points later, the Lady Cavs had their signature win, 40 – 34, for their first season. “We knew at the time it was big. We didn’t realize how big until a little while later.” What happened later that season was that the same Lighthouse team went on to win the South Carolina Association of Christian Schools (SCACS) 1A State Championship. Coach Canney continued, “A lot of us watched that game online, so right then we knew winning a state championship was a real possibility for us. After that game it became a goal. A mission.”
In February 2018, that mission was accomplished as the Lady Cavs won their first SCACS 1A State Championship with a 35 – 25 victory against none other than Lighthouse Christian School. “It was definitely special to beat them in the championship game. They are a great program, with a great coach and definitely our number one rival. If we were going to win it was only fitting that it was against them,” remarked Coach Canney. This in part was because the New Covenant girls lost the 2017 State Championship to Lighthouse. “That was by far our most bitter moment in the program’s three year history. But it served as the fuel for this year’s team,” said Coach Canney.
Clearly this year’s team was fueled for success. After dropping their first game of the season, the Lady Cavs ripped off 9 wins in a row before a disappointing mid-season loss to Hampton Park. The New Covenant girls responded quickly as they rolled off another 9 consecutive wins including two victories in the SCACS State Tournament to finish 18-2 overall and 6-0 in their conference.
In the State Championship game the Lady Cavs took a commanding early lead as they held Lighthouse scoreless in the first quarter. “We were not shooting the ball well early, due in part to Lighthouse’s defense. But we were really locking them down with our defense so we felt in control of the game,” said Coach Canney as he reflected on the championship game. Just before halftime, Captain Molly Landis nailed a three pointer to put the Lady Cavs up 19-4. From there it was a matter of managing the game to seal the Lady Cavs first State Championship. “We knew Lighthouse would make a run at us in the second half, but I had complete confidence that our girls would come out on top,” said Coach Canney. It was truly a team win as six different Lady Cavs scored, led by 8th grade sensation Lily Wickiser with 14 points. Senior Molly Landis finished her Lady Cav career with an impressive stat line of 8 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 6 steals.
When asked what the signature moment of this season was, Coach Canney chuckled as he replied, “Well I guess it has to be the State Championship game. But at the same time our win against Oakwood (Christian School, Anderson) proved to us that we could play and beat anybody. But yeah I think I’ll remember the State Championship game for a while.”
It definitely was a memorable moment for the New Covenant School Lady Cavalier basketball program and showcased how far they have come since their first season in 2015-2016. Coach Canney concluded, “I am so thankful for all the hard work the girls have put in along with how much their families have sacrificed. Above all I am thankful to the 10 seniors we have had over the last three years who have laid the foundation for us to build on.” It is clearly a strong foundation as the Lady Cavaliers look forward to next year. “Yeah, I look forward to trying to get back to the state tournament next year, but for right now I just want to praise our Lord for the blessings of this remarkable season,” said Coach Canney.
A remarkable year it was as the 2017-2018 New Covenant Lady Cavaliers are State Champions!