Battle of wits goes down to the wire in quiz bowl
Facing elimination in three straight matches, Southern Lee High School's quiz bowl team came from behind to win on the very last question twice in a row Saturday.
The third and final time — for the championship — no clutch performance was needed as the team rolled to a comfortable win over Lee Christian School at the Lee County Quiz Bowl, held Saturday morning at First Presbyterian Church.
"We were kind of nervous going into the finals, because we knew if we lost once, it was over," said Colby Kirkman of the Southern Lee team.
In the double-elimination tournament featuring Southern Lee, Lee Christian, Lee County High School and Lee Early College, Southern Lee and Lee Senior had one win and one loss each after Lee Early College was sent packing with two straight losses. So the two met up to determine who would face undefeated Lee Christian in the finals.
Despite an earlier loss at the hands of the Cavaliers, the Yellow Jackets held a 105-100 lead going into the final question, which went to them first. With a chance to put the game away, the team was asked to consider a sphere inscribed in a cube and to answer what the length of an edge of the cube would be equal to. They incorrectly answered radius, and Southern Lee was given a chance. They said diameter and snatched away a 115-105 victory.
With one loss for Southern Lee and none for Lee Christian, the Cavaliers would have to defeat the Falcons twice in a row to emerge as champions. The first game didn't look good for Southern Lee, which again found themselves behind going into the final question. But when Lee Christian couldn't say what an amoeba uses to push out extra fluid, Southern Lee tentatively gave the correct answer of vacuole, winning 120-115. That set off a round of fist bumps and high fives and set up a winner-take-all match, which Southern Lee won 130-75.
Southern Lee's captain, Will Maness, said his team had been motivated by a disappointing third-place finish last year and practiced hard, intent on winning. But he didn't anticipate that their path to victory would be so dramatic.
"I'm kind of in shock still," he said, trophy in hand.
The tournament, which was sponsored by the Lee County Library, the Friends of the Lee County Library and The Herald, had its light-hearted moments as well. Not even moderator David Riddle was immune, resorting to self-deprecating humor when he told one contestant the answer to one question was not an ellipsis, but rather three dots in a row.
"You learn things every day," he said with a laugh after being informed that an ellipsis is, in fact, the name for three dots in a row.
Everyone else in the audience of about 30 people probably learned something, too, including the participants. For every question answered that wasn't answered, seemingly harder ones were. Questions about the name of North Carolina's first governor (Richard Caswell) and what the gold standard is were met with silence or random guesses, but participants did know the specific name of the White House department in charge of writing a budget (the Office of Management and Budget), as well as the fact that Lebanon has more Christians than any other Middle Eastern country.
Likewise, no one could answer that Episcopalean religious leaders are known as rectors or that Mao Zedong implemented the Great Leap Forward, but teams did know about the musical instruments found in King Tut's tomb (trumpets) and the philosophy of John Locke, as well as a host of other questions about grammar, literature, sports, civics, pop culture and more.