LAKE CHARLES — With less than six minutes to go in the game, John Curtis had cut the University High lead to four points.
Senior guard Richard Durant had a 3-pointer in the air to cut the lead to one, but it came up just short.
After having taken the Patriots’ best punch, the Cubs went on a 15-0 run to put the game out of reach and defeat John Curtis 77-60 for the Class 3A title at Burton Coliseum.
“Richard had a good look at a 3-pointer,” Patriots coach Mike Krajcer said. “He just didn’t make it. If he makes it, then it is a one-point game and a whole different ballgame. We have lived and died by shooting the 3-pointer all year long. Unfortunately, they didn’t fall when we needed them to tonight.”
John Curtis (27-8) was led by Kai Morgan who had 20 points. Durant had 12 points and Dontae’ Jones added 10 points.
Never able to get a lead in the game, the Patriots fell behind 15-6 early in the first quarter and as much as 37-20 in the first half before a 3-pointer by Morgan cut the lead to 37-23 at the half.
Repeating as Class 3A state champions, U-High (33-3) was led by Most Outstanding Player Wayde Sims, who finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds. D.J. White added 18 points and seven rebounds and Skylar Mays had 13 points and a tournament record 11 assists to go along with a pair of steals.
Outrebounded by a bigger Cubs squad 45-32, Jones said at times the U-High’s size was too much to overcome.
“We all just tried to battle as much as we could inside,” Jones said. “We tried to be as physical as we could. Yes, (U-High) was a bigger team size-wise, but that is no excuse. They put their pants on the same way we do.
“It was a very physical game.”
The leading scorer for the Patriots, Morgan said one of the biggest stories of the game was too many missed shots in the first quarter. The Patriots made only 6-of-18 shots in the opening quarter.
“I just feel bad that this was the last game for our senior class, and I could not help them go out with a championship,” he said. “Nothing you could really say went wrong. Credit U-High. They are a good team with speed and a lot of size. We came into the game with that underdog mentality. We just didn’t have enough.
“I’ll admit that we were nervous early on. For nearly everybody on the roster, this was our first trip to a state championship game. We had a lot of nerves and it showed early on with a lot of easy shots that we were not able to convert on. A lot of shots that we make all the times throughout the season didn’t go in. It ended up coming back to haunt us as the end of the game unfortunately.”