U-High edges De La Salle, 56-55, to advance to Division II boys title game
The De La Salle Cavaliers reached the state boys basketball championship game a year ago, losing in double overtime to St. Thomas More, 77-72. Redemption and maybe even a shot at revenge were on their minds ever since.
However, a chance for both narrow slipped through their fingers in 2020.
Spurred on by a 7-0 run to start the game and a clutch free throw by Bryce Brown with four seconds left, Uiversity High defeated De La Salle, 56-55, in a Division II semifinal thriller Tuesday night at the Pennington McKernan Gymnasium on the LSU Campus.
“We played a very hard fought game you had 2 good teams going at it tonight,” said De La Salle coach Paul Kelly. “I’m proud of how hard my team fought under difficult circumstances.”
Top-seed St Thomas More, winners over No. 5 seed St Louis Catholic Saints 61-43 in Lafayette, will host the Division II Boys Basketball State Championship game in Lafayette on Friday.
A 4-0 run with back-to-back baskets by Bryce Brown and Shawn Jones drew U-High to within 37-36 early in the fourth quarter.
The Cavaliers came back and tied the game for the last time 55-55 with 50 seconds left on a Jalen Ned basket. After Brown’s crucial foul shot, John Kelly launched a three-point attempt off-target before the buzzer.
“The difference in the game is we did not take care of the ball but that’s a credit to U-High,” Kelly explained. “They are difficult to operate against and they play hard and are well coached.”
De La Salle rallied from an early deficit led by Ned and Eamon Kelly after the host Cubs held a 15-7 lead after one quarter of play.
“We had a great start to the game and we knew De La Salle wouldn’t quit,” said U-High coach Joe Spencer.
The Cavaliers were spurred on in the second quarter by a pair of three-pointers from Eamon Kelly and Jharon Gilmore to be draw within 23-19 at halftime and took the lead in the game 28-27 on a free throw by Ja’Kobe Walker with 5:10 to go in the third quarter as part of a 13-0 run that gave De La Salle a 37-32 lead going into the final quarter.
“It looked like who ever got the ball last would win, and the shot by John Kelly who is an unbelievable competitor was just enough for us,” Spencer said.
U High (25-6) was led by Bryce Brown with 16 points. Milan Mejia added 13 points, and Shawn Jones finished with 12 points.
“I have seven seniors and they have all competed for state titles,” noted Spencer.
De La Salle (28-5) was led by Leonard Jackson with 13 points, Kelly with 12 and Ned with 10.
“We executed down the stretch the way we wanted to,” said Kelly. “Incredibly proud again of my team. The seven seniors did everything we asked of them over the past four years. We won’t be state champions but we are champions.”
Like De La Salle’s football team had to experience this past December, the Cubs will have to try to win a state championship game at St. Thomas More.
It’s not ideal to play at STM but we welcome the challenge.” Spencer stated. “We will go to Lafayette and battle, and it will be a great game.”
LHSAA Prep Basketball Playoff Results from Tuesday, Mar. 10
Non-select semifinals at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles
2A–#1 Port Allen 74, #4 Lakeview 60
2A–#2 Rayville 90, #3 Red River 67
Class C–#4 Pleasant Hill 65, #1 Summerfield 58
Class C–#2 Hicks 50, #3 Simpson 43
Division I–#2 St. Augustine 83, #3 Catholic (BR) 67
Division II–#1 St. Thomas More 61, #5 St. Louis Catholic 43
Division II–#2 University Lab 56, #3 De La Salle 55
Division III–#1 Dunham 59, #4 Newman 55
Division III–#3 Episcopal 51, #2 Lafayette Christian 41 (2 OT)
Division IV–#1 Crescent City Christian 67, #4 St. Mary’s 51
Division IV–#6 Calvary Baptist 56, #2 Hamilton Christian 44
Division V–#1 Jehovah-Jireh 65, #4 Episcopal of Acadiana 38
Division V–#2 Runnels 69, #3 Family Christian 68
LHSAA Prep Basketball Playoff Schedule for Wednesday, Mar. 11
Division I—No. 4 Brother Martin at No. 1 Scotlandville, 7 p.m.
Non-Select semifinals at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles
3A–#2 Wossman vs. #3 Madison Prep, 1 p.m.
Class C–#1 Simsboro vs. #5 Pitkin, 2:45 p.m.
Class C–#2 Doyline vs. #3 JS Clark Leadership Academy, 4:30 p.m.
5A–#6 Alexandria at #10 Hahnville, 6:15 p.m.
5A–#4 Bonnabel vs. #9 Walker, 8 p.m.
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Randy Pistorius is a lifelong resident of South Louisiana and is currently working in the communications field in the Baton Rouge Metropolitian Area. Randy’s start in journalism came while still in high school at De La Salle in New Orleans and that carried with him to Southeastern Louisiana University where he wrote for the Lions Roar and also worked in…