Seniors Jalen Johnson and Wayde Sims got going offensively in the second half to help power second-seeded University to its fourth straight trip to the Top 28.
Johnson scored 16 of his game-high 26 points in the second half as the Cubs defeated No. 7 De La Salle 67-45 Friday night in a Class 3A boys basketball quarterfinal playoff game at University.
Sims picked up his second foul in the first quarter with 1:44 remaining and didn’t play the rest of the half. Sims scored all seven of his points in the second half and had two strong dunks.
Senior Marshall Graves added 15 points and six assists for two-time defending state champion University (29-4).
“In the second half, my guys were really ready to play,” University coach Joe Spencer said. “We turned it over a little bit and took some quick shots in the first half. In the second half, we ran our stuff and the guys played with energy.”
De La Salle led by as much as six points in the second quarter. There were five lead changes in the second quarter. The Cavaliers led 30-28 at halftime.
Steven Kelly hit two 3-pointers and led De La Salle with 11 points. Josh Paul added eight points and Amad Taylor six for the Cavaliers (28-6).
University pulled away in the fourth quarter with a 19-8 scoring advantage.
“I thought we played very hard,” De La Salle coach Paul Kelly said. “We outcompeted them in the first half. Unfortunately, we didn’t make enough shots.”
Kelly said the size of 6-foot-8 Sims and 6-6 Johnson bothered his team. That duo combined for seven blocked shots and 20 rebounds.
“Their length and size bothered us around the rim,” he said. “All credit goes to U-High. We did have a good year and made it to the quarters in back-to-back seasons.”
Johnson, who hit four 3-pointers, also showed he had the ability to drive the ball and finish. John Jones, the lone UHS junior starter, hit two 3-pointers.
“Our four senior starters really stepped up,” Spencer said. “Winning their final game in this gym meant a lot to them and it really showed.”
De La Salle led by five points (13-8) in the first quarter after Kelly’s driving basket. The Cavaliers led 23-17 in the second quarter following a short jumper by Christian Booker.
University went on an 8-0 run. Jones started that rally by banking in a 3-pointer.
University went on a 17-3 run in the first seven minutes of the third quarter. Johnson’s 3-pointer in the first minute put the Cubs up for good at 31-30. Sims had a dunk off an assist from Jones as University led 37-32. Johnson had 10 points in the third quarter.
University went on a 6-0 run in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter to lead 54-37. Johnson hit a 3-pointer and blocked a shot at the rim on the other end.
University will play No. 3 St. Louis Catholic in the semifinals.