LAKE CHARLES — Fifth-seeded Episcopal seemed to have the perfect script to finally beat The Dunham School.
The score was below 50 points in the Division III semifinal and the Knights had took a possible game-winning shot in the final seconds. Yet it turned out all Wright for the top-seeded Tigers.
Sophomore Jordan Wright blocked a shot by Episcopal’s Brandan Garrido with 3.2 seconds left and then hit two free throws with 2.1 seconds to go to clinch a 49-45 Dunham victory Wednesday night at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA boys basketball tournament.
“During the timeout, coach asked me if I was ready to guard (somebody),” Wright said. “I was looking to redeem myself for missing two boxouts in the first half.”
The 6-foot-5 Wright stood out before he used a seven-inch height advantage to block Episcopal’s potential game-winner. He scored a game-high 27 points, including 19 in the first half, on 9 of 16 shooting from the field.
When Wright did miss a layup in the final 30 seconds, Salle Wilson scored on a putback with 26 seconds left to give Dunham the lead for good in the third meeting of the year between the District 8-2A rivals.
“I had a line on the rebound, and when I got it, I went back up with it,” Wilson said.
Dunham (27-4) advances to play No. 2 Country Day in the title game set for 8 p.m. Friday at Burton Coliseum. It is the first title-game berth for Dunham since 1999.
"Episcopal … I thought they played as hard as they could," Dunham coach Jonathan Pixley said. "I thought we came out tight and took too many ill-advised 3s early. We righted things in the third quarter and went up by 11, but then we went a drought and it was just a dogfight.”
Wright was the only double-figures scorer. Wilson added nine for the Tigers, who also got a game-high 12 rebounds from Mike Wilson. Cameron Dumas and Kade Edenfield each had nine points for Episcopal. The Knights got eight from Garrido. Edenfield and Zach Holloway each had 11 rebounds for EHS.
“They left it all on the court,” said Episcopal coach Chris Beckman Sr., who referenced the team’s hardships following August’s historic flooding. “I’m proud of our guys for battling the whole game. I thought we showed a lot of heart. We had our chances. They did a great job of guarding our last play.”
The first-half pace favored Episcopal, a team making its third straight tourney berth. Dunham didn’t overwhelm the Knights the way it did in two double-digit wins in District 8-2A.
Stopping Wright was another matter. Wright made 7 of 10 first-half shots, including two 3-pointers. Only two other Tigers scored in the first half.
Neither team held more than a two-point lead in the first quarter. A layup by Dumas sent Episcopal into the second quarter with a 10-9 lead.
Two free throws by got Episcopal within one, at 19-18, with 3:34 left in the half. Dunham closed out the quarter with a 7-2 run, courtesy of Wright, to make it 26-20.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by EJ Hitchens helped Dunham push its lead to 11 points in the third quarter. A free throw by Dumas with 4.1 seconds left cut the Tigers’ lead to 36-30 going into the fourth quarter. Dunham clung to the lead until Austin Jemison hit a floater in the lane that tied it at 45 with 1:16 to go before Wilson and Wright countered.
Afterwards, Wright was relishing the moment.
“It just feels good to finally be here,” Wright said.