LAKE CHARLES — Even the casual fan understands that basketball is a game of scoring runs.
So when John Curtis opened the fourth quarter with a run that cut University High’s lead to four points with 5:47 left in the game, there was a cause for concern.
The next big run — a 15-0 surge by U-High — decided the Class 3A state title Saturday night at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Boys Top 28 tournament.
Most Outstanding Player Wayde Sims scored nine fourth-quarter points, including 5 of 6 free throws in the closing minutes, as University claimed its 77-60 victory over Curtis at Burton Coliseum.
“I just had to knock down the free throws and try to concentrate,” the soft-spoken Sims said.
Sims finished with a game-high 27 points and 14 rebounds to help the Cubs (33-4) win their second straight 3A title and sixth overall. Sims wasn’t the only one with a double-double.
Point guard Skylar Mays had 13 points and set a 3A single-game record for assists in a game with 11. Mays’ two-game total of 17 ties the record he set a year ago.
D.J. White contributed 18 points, while Maxwell Starwood had nine points and 11 rebounds.
It marks the first time since 1982-84 that UHS has won back-to-back boys basketball titles. The victory also gives U-High a boys/girls 3A basketball title sweep for the second straight year.
UHS has won state titles in four sports so far in 2014-15, including football and girls soccer. A crowd of 6,676 attended the four-game session, giving the tourney a total of 29,848 over five days.
“Well, it’s hard enough to win one. It’s harder to win two, and then it’s even harder to win two back-to-back,” Mays said. “I can’t be anything but proud of my teammates. We played well. We actually played with a sense of urgency in the first half. We just took care of the ball and finished the game out.”
Curtis (25-8) got 20 points from Kai Morgan and 12 from Richard Durant during its bid to be a giant killer for the second time in four years. The Patriots upset Riverside Academy to win the 2A title in 2012.
“We did what we do all the time,” Curtis coach Mike Krajcer said when asked about the rally. “We came back, and Richard (Durant) had a good look at a 3 (-pointer). He just didn’t make it.”
U-High had too much height and enough athleticism to limit the Patriots to 29.7 percent shooting for the game. The Cubs made 63.4 percent of their shots as the 6-foot-6 Sims went 9-for-11.
“Once we settled down and got everything straight on the press break, offensively breaking their press and handling the ball I thought we were OK,” U-High coach Joe Spencer said. “But we knew they weren’t going to go away.”
U-High got a jump start from Sims and White and quickly took control in the first quarter.
Sims, who finished with 13 first-half points, scored seven in the first quarter, moving smoothly around the goal. White had back-to-back 3-pointers from the left side as the Cubs built a 12-4 lead.
A 3-pointer by Jalen Johnson sent the Cubs into the second quarter with a 20-13 lead. Another late 3-pointer by Durant had helped the Patriots cut into the UHS lead.
It was more of the same in the second quarter. The Cubs extended their lead to 17 points late in the half.
A 3-pointer by Curtis’ Devon Benn made it a 37-23 game at halftime.
Curtis cut the U-High lead to eight points three times in the third quarter. Dontae’ Jones layup with 21 seconds left made it a 54-36 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Patriots kept hanging on and gave the Cubs their best shot with 5:47 left when Durant made two free throws to make it 56-52. Both teams missed shots in the sequence that followed. One free throw by White and two by Starwood helped U-High start to pull away again.
“The most important part is that we played together as a team,” White said. “The only thing that went through my mind (during Curtis’ rally) is let’s stick together.”