St. Paul’s basketball coach Phil Williams was on the verge of pulling forward Devonte Allen off the floor late in Saturday’s Allstate Sugar Bowl CYO tournament championship, but he decided against it.
It was the best decision he made the entire night.
With the game tied and 14 seconds remaining, Allen stole a De La Salle inbounds pass and laid it in on the other end to seal an 81-79 victory at Jesuit, which gave the Wolves their first CYO tournament title.
The win also extends St. Paul’s win streak to eight games.
“I thought he got a little emotional at the end and I wanted to calm him down,” Williams said. “It’s rare to even hear about St. Paul’s in the semifinals of this tournament, let alone winning it.
“I just have to give a ton of credit to (Allen), he made a heck of a play.”
Tim Bedford led the way for the Wolves (8-1) with an all-around performance, finishing with 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Allen added 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting with three steals and two blocks.
“It’s good to finally get some recognition,” joked Allen, who was named tournament MVP. “My teammates were telling me to face-guard my man, and I saw the guy passing it in threw it kind of weak, so I just pounced on it.”
After allowing a double-digit lead to slip away late in the first half, the Wolves got things going once again to open the third quarter and utilized a 16-4 run to stretch their lead up to 63-44.
From that point on, the Cavaliers (4-2) began to clamp down on defense and forced their way back into the game.
They cut their deficit to 69-60 to end the third quarter, and opened the fourth quarter with a 10-2 run that concluded with a corner 3-pointer by Noble Scott that cut the St. Paul’s lead to 71-70.
The Cavaliers even took a 79-77 lead with a minute left after three free throws from guard Stephen Kelly, but they couldn’t make the plays at the end to close out the win.
Kelly finished tied for the team lead with 19 points along with David Williams, who also had 10 rebounds.
“It shouldn’t have come down to that last play if we didn’t dig ourselves that hole in the third quarter,” De La Salle coach Paul Kelly said. “You have to give (Allen) credit, he made a great play. But I wish we could’ve played more consistent.”
Both teams went back and forth with their high-tempo style of play for the majority of the first half, but the Cavaliers offense began to get stagnant late, allowing St. Paul’s to grab control of the game.
Trailing 27-25 midway through the second quarter, the Wolves went on a 17-3 run that was capped with a 3-pointer by forward Skyler Herbet while he was being fouled. Herbet missed the ensuing free throw, but St. Paul’s took a commanding 42-30 lead, the first double-digit advantage for either team in the game.
De La Salle found its groove late in the second, though, and scored a quick six points to end the period and go into halftime trailing 42-36.