Episcopal got the kind of balanced team play that coach Chris Beckman likes in its 59-42 win over The Dunham School in a Class 2A regional round playoff game on Tuesday night at Episcopal.
“Our guys toughed it out,” Beckman said. “We took (Dunham’s) best shot in the first quarter and were only down one (17-16), even though we missed five free throws.
“Our team doesn’t care who scores, just so we score. It took a total team effort. Evan Lawson hit a big (3-pointer) and I thought Kevin (Trepeaux) was dynamite on the boards. Jerry Dunbar did a great job of guarding (Dunham’s) Leviticus (Bradley),” he said.
Some of Episcopal’s fans in the sellout crowd were waving brooms as the Knights completed their season’s sweep of their district rivals.
“After the first two games, I thought they were a little better than us, and this makes it official,” Dunham coach Jonathan Pixley said.
“We had to do too many different things defensively to try to guard their two best players (Spencer Kleinpeter and Chris Beckman Jr.). There were too many holes in our defense, and when our offense slowed down, theirs didn’t.”
Dunham (21-11) got off to a blazing start in the first quarter behind eight points from Bradley, breaking away to early leads of 14-6 and 17-10, but the Knights fought back on six points each from Kleinpeter and Trepeaux to score the last six points of the quarter and pull within one.
Lawson put Episcopal (25-2) ahead with a basket on the first possession of the second quarter, and the Knights went on to a 28-24 halftime lead.
Coach Beckman had predicted a dogfight, and the physical third quarter was just that. Jyron Walker pulled the Tigers within two at 35-33 and they tied it at 35 before Lawson drained a 3-pointer and Beckman hit a jumper at the buzzer for a 40-35 lead.
Dunham managed only seven points in a wild and sloppy fourth quarter. Beckman Jr. found the range with nine points, including a 3-pointer and was 4-for-4 from the free throw line.
Beckman Jr. finished with 17 points, followed by Kleinpeter with 15 and Trepeau with 14.
Beckman Sr. had special praise for Lawson, who has been a starter since Jackson Davis was lost to a knee injury.
“Evan Lawson did a great job. He’s been a starter, and this year he’s come off the bench. He’s has that ‘senior will.’ He’s a senior and he doesn’t want to see the season end,” he said.
After all five of its starters scored in the first quarter, Dunham added only 25 more points in the final three quarters. Bradley led the Tigers with 12, while Walker added nine and Chase Day eight.
“It’s hard to beat someone three times (in a season), especially a good team as well-coached that plays with great emotion like Dunham does. We can pat ourselves on the back tonight, but now we’re tasked with getting ready for our next opponent,” Beckman Sr. said.
The win was the 499th of Beckman Sr.’s career. He will be looking for No. 500 when the Knights host Rapides on Friday in a quarterfinal game.