The talent of The Dunham School boys basketball team, as well as its youthful inexperience, was on display Wednesday evening against St. Amant.
The Class 2A Tigers repeatedly squandered leads against the 5A Gators but had an answer for every St. Amant run eventually holding on for a 65-59 win at the 44th Episcopal Classic.
Dunham (15-4) built a lead as big as 11 points in the second half, but only led 50-48 with four minutes left. The Tigers put St. Amant (11-8) away at the free-throw line making 9 of 13 down the stretch.
“We’re up and down right now with our lack of focus,” said Dunham coach Jonathan Pixley, whose team also defeated Doyle, Springfield and Family Christian at the Episcopal Classic.
“We do have some talent, but we’re very, very young. When we’re up by 11, guys feel like its as good as 100, and we’re playing like that.”
Tre Scott, one of two Dunham seniors, provided a steadying influence with a game-high 26 points. After St. Amant closed to within 50-48, Scott drained two of his five 3-pointers as Dunham regained a cushion.
St. Amant’s Carter Templet, who finished with 18 points, kept things interesting with three 3-pointers in the final minutes. His long 3-pointer from the top of the key with a minute left pulled the Gators within 61-59.
Dunham responded by making four of six free throws in the final minute. St. Amant’s final three possessions were unproductive with a turnover and two missed 3-pointers.
“(Dunham) is really good,” St. Amant coach Travis Uzee said. “Every time we made a run, they’d hit a big shot. I thought that was the key. Even at the end, they went down and made free throws.
“They did everything they were supposed to do, and we just came up a little short.”
St. Amant came up short, partially because Dunham freshmen — Jordan Wright and Ty Spurlock. Wright did most of his work near the basket, tallying 18 points, while Spurlock added 13.
The game started on even terms. St. Amant held a one-point lead late in the first quarter before Wright’s free throws gave the Tigers a 15-14 lead.
In the second quarter, Dunham led by five points twice, but St. Amant came back to force a tie at 26. A driving basket by Scott had Dunham up 28-26 at the half.
Dunham opened the third quarter with turnovers on four consecutive possessions, but St. Amant couldn’t take advantage. The Tigers led 39-28 with three minutes left in the quarter, but K.J. Franklin’s steal and layup helped St. Amant close the quarter with a 6-0 spurt.
In the fourth quarter, St. Amant got close but was turned back each time.
“It was good for us to see different types of teams and different styles of play,” Pixley said.
“Playing four games in four days helps you find out about conditioning, and what kind of toughness you’ve got.”