The Dunham School’s opening salvo proved more than enough to finish off the first round atop the District 8-2A standings.
Not only did the Tigers establish early control with a double-digit lead, but consistently fended off Christian Life Academy for a 79-71 victory Tuesday on their homecourt.
“We did enough to get it done,” Dunham coach Jonathan Pixley said. “The early lead obviously carried us.”
Dunham (22-5, 4-0) scored the game’s first seven points, building an 18-7 lead six minutes in on 7-of-11 shooting and held a 24-9 advantage with just under a minute to play in the first quarter.
Freshman Jordan Wright scored eight of his 15 points during that stretch, which was also keyed by the Tigers’ defense that forced six of 17 turnovers.
With Dunham limiting CLA’s 1-2 punch of Ludivoc Kader and Jacob Kibodi to no field goals and a combined five points, guard Sam Williams sparked the Crusaders (20-4, 2-2) with 17 of his game-high 25 points during the first half. Kader finished with 16.
“Credit to them for coming out really hot and ready to play,” CLA coach Stephen Dale said of Dunham. “We came out flat and not ready to play. Defensively, we didn’t have enough intensity, which is a credit to them. They had a lot to do with that.”
Forward Marquis Webb sparked CLA’s best run at 8-2, hitting a pair of 3-pointers that reduced Dunham’s 36-26 halftime lead to 43-36 at the 4:19 mark of the third quarter.
Senior guard Tre Scott absorbed the brunt of Dunham’s scoring in the second half, taking over primarily in the third quarter with 13 of his team’s 24 points to make it 60-46 heading into the final quarter.
Scott stopped CLA’s surge with the first of his three 3-pointers, pushed the Tigers’ lead to 53-39 with another 3-pointer, scored in transition and hit another 3-pointer with 11 seconds left.
Scott scored 22 of his team-high 24 points in the second half, helping Dunham shoot 48 percent for the game. Three other Tigers — Wright (15), Ben Bernhard (11) and E.J. Hitchens (11) — finished in double figures.
“We couldn’t put them away, but in all fairness that’s a good team,” Pixley said.
Williams’ driving basket drew CLA to within 69-61 with 2:17 remaining, only to have Bernhard start a parade to the free-throw line in the last 2:02 to cement the game with 12-of-18 shooting.
“They’re a really good team; I think we’re a good team,” Dale said. “You just can’t get yourself in that big of a hole against a good team and then come back and win many times.”