Unbeaten E.D. White spent the better part of the game trying to catch tournament host St. Martin’s on Friday night, before surviving with a 37-35 win.
It was Connor Chaisson’s driving left-handed scoop shot from the baseline and free throw that completed the three-point play that gave the Cardinals a 36-35 lead with 2:18 remaining in the game.
Chaisson scored only those three points in the first semifinal game of the St. Martin’s Invitational Tournament.
E. D. White (6-0) advances to play defending tournament champion Episcopal in Saturday’s championship game. Episcopal rode Jackson Davis’ 15 points to a 57-41 victory over Lusher in the other semifinal game.
The Cardinals’ swarming, switching man-to-man defense held St. Martin’s (7-2) scoreless for the final four minutes of the game.
A free throw by Bradley Hamilton gave the Cardinals a 37-35 lead with 30 seconds left. Hamilton had taken an inbound pass from Chaisson.
“On the (three-point) play, I was just trying to get to the free-throw line,” Chaisson said. “I knew if I got a step (along the baseline), I could get at least a couple of free throws.”
His underhanded shot found the basket and he calmly sank the free shot on a night E. D. White made only 5 of 16 free throws.
St. Martin’s used a lock-down 2-3 zone defense to force the Cardinals into “not a very good shooting night,” according to E. D. White coach Jonathan Keife.
St. Martin’s caused three turnovers in the first quarter and jumped to an 11-1 lead.
E. D. White was able to pull to within 21-13 at halftime and used and eight-point third quarter from Kevin Johnson’s penetrating drives to make to a 31-30 game after three quarters.
Ethan Robarts’ field goal gave the Saints a 35-33 lead with four minutes to play, setting the stage for Chaisson’s game-winner.
“We learned a valuable lesson tonight,” Chaisson said. “We don’t have to shoot well to win. Our defense carried us.
“Coach told us (after the first quarter)that we were not going to get it all back at once.”
Keife said he told his team to relax after the first quarter. “I just wanted them to relax. I didn’t want our offensive struggles to get to us, to impact other areas of our game.”
St. Martin’s played without starting center Will Dean, who was ill.
“E. D. White is a quick bunch, and deep,” St. Martin’s coach Michael Odom said. “I thought we did a good job against their pressure tonight. Our defensive effort was tough against a very good team,” Odom said. “We’re trying to change the culture here and the team responded.”
Hamilton, Johnson and Allen Taylor each scored nine points to lead E. D. White. Kevin Bird led St. Martin’s, also with nine points.
St. Martin’s will play Lusher Saturday.