Marlain Veal’s one-handed dunk didn’t count Saturday night as time expired on Helen Cox’s 56-52 victory against East St. John in the championship game of the Newman Invitational tournament.

Still, Veal made his point.

Cox plans to be a basketball powerhouse this season, and it has the players and potential to accomplish that task.

It showed at Newman High School as Cox withstood a 25-point effort by Tre’Von Jasmine, finding a way to counter his mid-range jump shot and layups with its own offense. Jeremy Treaudo scored 15 points, including a putback with 53.4 seconds left that gave Cox a lead it did not relinquish.

Cox improved to 10-0 entering Monday night’s game against Edna Karr.

“We’re still working to get better on offense, but our defense is going to help us win games,” said Treaudo, who became the first Cox player to earn MVP honors at the annual tournament since Greg Monroe did so in 2006-07. One night earlier, he pushed Cox past St. Augustine with a 19-point effort.

Effort plays, too. It’s why coach Tyron Mouzon is hopeful about 2014.

“I was proud of them for hanging in the game as it went back and forth,” he said. “I don’t think there was more than one lead of five or six points.”

Cox outscored East St. John 20-14 in the fourth quarter.

Roydell Brown scored 14 points for Cox, and Veal added seven. Veal, though, missed two free throws with 53.4 left as Cox tried to protect a one-point lead. Luckily, Treaudo reached the rebound before East St. John.

“That play really turned around the game for them,” Jasmine said.

For East St. John (9-3), Troy Green added 10 points.

Raekwon McKnight scored all five of his points in the third quarter as the Wildcats went on a 15-9 lead. With 33 seconds left in the quarter, McKnight stole a pass and scored on a layup, giving East. St. John a 38-34 lead.

But Cox responded, changing momentum with Veal’s open-court steal on Arlandrian Martin with 4:30 left.

“We entered this tournament wanting to keep competing at a high level, which I believe we did,” East St. John coach Yussef Jasmine said.