By ROBERT CARTER
CHICAGO - Call them giant slayers.
Seeded fourth in the final-four playoff brackets, James River Assembly of Ozark, Missouri first overcame a 150-point deficit to defeat Cedar Park Assembly "The A Team" of Bothell, Washington in the semifinal round. Then they came back from 65 down in the national championship match, taking the lead for good when Devon Colegrove quizzed out on the 19th question, and defated four-time and defending champion Owasso, Oklahoma First Assembly 155-120 to win the church's first ever Teen Bible Quiz national championship.
Bothell came back in the third-place game to defeat Bellvue (Wash.) Neighborhood Church 125-100.
It is the second national title for James River coach John Porter, who holds the record for most National Finals appearances by a coach (24 tournaments). He won previously with Allison Park (Pennsylvania) Assembly in 1995. One of the members of that '95 team, Jason Martin, was the quizmaster for this year's championship match.
James River had to withstand one last chance by Owasso, which gained fame earlier this year for winning the finals of Season Two of The Amercian Bible Challenge on cable television's GSN (Game Show Network) as "The Wagner Warriors." Team captain Daniel Wagner had a chance to win the title on the final question, a 10-pointer that would have given him five correct answers for the match and a 20-point bonus -- just enough for the victory. But he fell short, and James River prevailed.
In the semifinals, James River was up against Bothell and team captain Abby Rogers, who just won her fourth individual scoring title in the main tournament -- a new Teen Bible Quiz record. But the Ozark team took advantage of rebounds on missed questions by Bothell, and came charging back late in the game to win.
Porter said afterward, "It's the biggest comeback of any team I have ever coached at National Finals. One of my teams from Dunwoody (Georgia) came back from 135 down a few years ago, but that's it."
Wagner placed second in the individual standings behind Rogers, and Colegrove was fourth behind third-place Joseph Chacra of Pocono Community Church of Mt. Pocono, Pnnsylvania.
In the Challenger Division, Evangel Church of Kansas City, Missouri took top honors with a 16-3 record in the main round-robin play. Luke Hamilton of Northfield Church in Gering, Nebraska was the top individual scorer in the division.
Robert Carter is the statistician for the Teen Bible Quiz National Finals, and the sports/digital editor of The North Jefferson News in Gardendale, Ala. He attends Garywood Assembly in Hueytown, Ala. (Jeff Leatherman, pastor).