LAKE CHARLES — A few weeks ago, Dunham coach Jonathan Pixley posted the stat sheet from last season's Division III championship game.
It was a reminder of the pain and heartache from that 29-point loss — "a drubbing" Pixley calls it — to Country Day a year ago.
"We were as motivated as can be," Pixley said. "We wanted to get back to that game. It's a round earlier, but it didn't matter. It was who we were playing and we had to get back and take care of business. They figured it out tonight."
No. 2 Dunham got its revenge, finishing strong to edge No. 3 and defending state champion Country Day 47-46 in the semifinals of the LHSAA boys basketball tournament at Burton Coliseum.
Dunham (23-4) advances to Saturday's 2 p.m. all-Baton Rouge area championship game to play No. 4 Episcopal, which stunned top seed Riverside Academy 68-67 in the day's earlier semifinal.
Dunham got to the title game by scoring the game's final eight points, responding to Country Day's dominant second-half performance.
Jordan Wright led the Tigers with 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Ralph Davenport and Salle Wilson scored 10 points each. Oddyst Walker finished with nine points.
"We always find a way to win," Walker said. "We know our hard work at practice, and we know we can trust each other. Coach made it clear to us this is our game and we deserve everything given to us and we just have one more step."
It was pair of defensive plays by Wright that helped seal it though.
Wright blocked a shot with 13 seconds left and his team clinging to a 47-46 lead. Then after a pair of missed Dunham free throws, he forced a turnover to end it and send the Tigers back to the title game. Wright had a similar block in last season's semifinals against Episcopal.
"It was déjà vu," Pixley said. "He's a big-time player and he made a big-time play. Most of his accolades come on the offensive end, but he made a defensive play when our team had to have a play."
It was a game of runs.
Dunham trailed 18-16 midway through the second quarter before scoring 12 unanswered points to close the half with a 28-18 lead.
The Cajuns (22-13) stormed back in the third and seemed to be in control. Country Day outscored Dunham 19-8 in the third to take a 37-36 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The 8-0 run in the third spilled over into the fourth when the Cajuns scored the first seven points and led 44-36. But then the Tigers got going, turning up the defense and outscoring the Cajuns 11-2 the rest of the way.
"We got a little rattled," Country Day coach Mike McGuire said. "Their press was effective. We couldn't finish and forced a few shots. ... They didn't give in. We didn't give in. I thought it was a great semifinal game with two tough programs. We got the better of them in the championship, and this year they were hungry."
Country Day's Kaleb Jenkins scored 21 points and had 10 rebounds, while teammate Justin Ibieta finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.
"We have a refuse to lose mentality," Pixley said. "Somebody is just going to make a play, and we had several guys to make plays today."