It was a landmark night for The Dunham School in its home gym. The Tigers ran their season record to 26-4 and punched their ticket for a state Division III semifinalwith a 74-46 win over Runnels.
It was their third win of the year over the Raiders, and now they will move on to the final four to face another District 8-2A rival, Episcopal, a team they’ve also beaten twice this season on Tuesday in Lake Charles.
“A trip to the final four is enough motivation no matter who you’re playing,” Dunham coach Jonathan Pixley said. “If you can’t get up for that you’re just not competitive, and I know these guys are really competitive.”
The Tigers established their dominance early, leading 21-8 after the first quarter and 39-15 at halftime. Their attacking defense forced six first-quarter turnovers.m Sophomore Jordan Wright outscored Runnels with 13 points in the first quarter.
With 6:28 left in the first quarter, Wright scored his 1,000th career point, becoming the fastest of the nine players in Dunham history to reach the milestone. He led the Tigers with 26 points despite sitting out the second quarter with foul trouble and not playing much in the fourth quarter when Pixley let his reserves play.
"That (1,000 points) was one of my goals this year, but it doesn’t really matter right now,” Wright said. “The important thing now is come back Sunday to get ready for Tuesday and win that state championship.”
Pixley sees more to his star than just a scoring machine.
“He (Wright) is beyond special,” he said. “The fun thing about watching him now is his growth on defense and his willingness to share the ball. For someone who can score on just about anybody, he is really a willing passer and he gets the other guys involved.”
Those ‘other guys’ for Dunham were a solid complement. Freshman Salle Wilson had one of those 3s and reached double figures with 12 points. EJ Hitchens and Cam Denison each had two 3s, while Travis Myers and Ty Spurlock had one apiece.
Runnels coach Ben Young was sorry to see his three senior starters end their season with a blowout loss.
“They’ve worked real hard and they play hard and obviously no one wants to go out that way,”Young said. “But Dunham has a lot of talent and they shot the ball well. We just couldn’t get many opportunities when we kept turning the ball over.”
Sophomore guard Cade Tate had 14 points, including four 3s, and five rebounds for the Raiders. Connor Raines led Runnels (17-18) in scoring with 16 and added six rebounds.
They did take some consolation in holding Dunham center Mike Williams to six points, seven below his average.
The Tigers managed fine without Williams’ scoring. They doubled the score at 72-36 with four minutes left, so they had safely secured their trip to the semifinals and had plenty of energy left to cut down the nets after the game.