LAKE CHARLES — Some teams wilt under the pressure to achieve a milestone. University High did just the opposite.
The Cubs rode an offensive firestorm to a 98-65 victory over Wossman High in the Class 3A title game at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Boys Top 28 tournament played Saturday night.
“We took some bad shots, and they were going in,” U-High coach Joe Spencer said. “It was just one of those nights when things were going right for us.”
Things went so very right for the second-seeded Cubs (31-4), who won a third straight state title for the first time in school history. Title-game MVP Jalen Johnson scored a team-high 28 points on 9-of-12 shooting to lead four double figures scorers in the game played at Burton Coliseum.
Wayde Sims added 26 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Marshall Graves scored 18 points and set a single-game 3A record with 13 assists. Graves had 17 assists in two games at the Top 28, tying a tournament record set by former teammate Skylar Mays. Spencer Mays also pitched in 12 points as the Cubs scored the most points by any team during the five-day tournament.
Casey Jones, Jr., made 12 of 18 shots to finish with a game-high 31 points for Wossman (35-9). Zach Smith scored 11 points for the Monroe-based Wildcats.
A look at the final statistics left the U-High players wide-eyed during the postgame interview session. They realized what the fans in the stands saw all along.
“Like coach said, we were ready to play, knowing this would be our last game on a high school basketball floor,” Johnson said. “It’s sad, but we wanted to make it a memory.”
Graves added, “First and foremost we’re really blessed to be here. Playing beside these guys is great. A lot of respect to Wossman, they’re a great team. Tonight. … We’ve been ready for this.”
Typically, a team cools down after they make 70 percent of their shots in the first quarter. Not so much for the Cubs. U-High shot a sizzling 63.8 percent (30 of 47) from the field and 91.2 percent (31 of 34) on free throws to go along with 63.6 (7 of 11 3-point shooting).
University built an early lead before Anthony Caesar made a 3-pointer to tie it at 12 with 3:26 left in the first quarter.
But the Cubs outscored Wossman 10-4 the rest of the quarter. A long 3-pointer from the top of the key by Johnson gave UHS a 22-16 lead going into the second quarter.
The Cubs extended their lead in the second quarter. U-High led by as much as 15 points and were ahead 44-30 at halftime. A 30-point third quarter put the game out of reach.
Spencer also was shaking his head as his digested the final totals and pondered the three-in-a-row milestone.
“These guys made the Top 28 when they were freshmen, and everybody starts talking about them winning ‘X’ amount of state titles,” Spencer said. “And I’m like ‘We just made the Top 28. It’s really hard to make the Top 28.’ To win three times in a row is just unbelievable. I’m extremely proud of the seniors and the leadership they’ve shone through.”
Wossman coach Casey Jones also credited the Cubs and Johnson in particular.
“I tell you what, Jalen Johnson made some outstanding shots,” Wossman coach Casey Jones said. “I thought we defended pretty good. We wanted to make him (Johnson) go to his right, but with his length and size he was able to raise up and shoot over us.
“We knew we’d have a hard time with Wayde down on the block, and we wanted to take Jalen away. That’s hard to do when they shoot like that.”