LAKE CHARLES — The next-to-last obstacle between top-seeded University High and another Class 3A state title wasn’t the tallest or the quickest.
But fifth-seeded St. Louis Catholic played with plenty of savvy and emotion and had the backing of a large hometown fan base on hand for the 3A semifinal that was part of Thursday’s action at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Boys Top 28 tournament.
The Cubs have a way of making would-be upsets turn into wins. And U-High did it again, outscoring St. Louis seven points in the final quarter to notch a 50-41 victory at Burton Coliseum. A crowd of 5,790 attended the five-game session.
“It was a very hard fought game,” U-High coach Joe Spencer said. “I thought St. Louis played great. I thought they had a great game plan. I thought they played with a tremendous amount of heart.
“We knew it was going to be tough and we knew they would have a lot of fans. To be honest we were excited about that. We thought it would be a great atmosphere and it was. I’m pleased we were able to stick together to get the victory.”
With the victory, The defending 3A champion Cubs (32-4) advance to play third-seeded John Curtis (25-7) in the 3A title game set for 6 p.m. Saturday.
Wayde Sims shook off a slow start to finish with a game-high 17 points and 10 rebounds. Maxwell Starwood nine of his 13 points in the second-half, including two monster dunks in the fourth quarter as UHS outscored the Saints (22-12) by a 21-14 margin to pull away.
Jalen Johnson also had 12 points for UHS. P.J. Hardy also had 12 points to pace St. Louis, a school making its first tourney appearance since 1998. SLC was the only Lake Charles-based school in the tourney.
“We were right there,” St. Louis coach Rick LeBato said. “A couple of trips cost us. We had them spread out but tried to go over the top a couple of times and turned the ball over. We definitely had a chance to get it done.
“They’re a very good basketball team.”
LAKEVIEW 73, EPISCOPAL 54: Second-seeded Lakeview is headed back to the Class 2A title game for the second year in a row and plays Riverside Academy (29-6) in the 2A final set for 4 p.m. Saturday.
Lakeview scored the game’s first 20 points. Episcopal got no closer than seven the rest of the way.
Tay Hardy scored a game-high 29 points, making 10 of 16 shots from the field, including 6 of 10 3-pointers. The Gators lost to Riverside 88-75 in the 2A final a year ago. Episcopal didn’t score its first points until Evan Lawson scored with 1:24 remaining in the first quarter. Chris Beckman Jr. led Episcopal with 17 points and Spencer Kleinpeter had 15. The Knights finished 31-3.