LAKE CHARLES — There was more drama packed into the final two seconds than in some movies as The Dunham School beat Episcopal 49-48 for its first LHSAA boys basketball title in 20 years.
First, Dunham’s Jordan Wright made a go-ahead shot with defenders all around. Several Dunham players rushed onto the court, thinking the Division III title game was over. But there was 0.5 seconds on the clock and officials called a technical foul on the Tigers.
Episcopal's Cameron Dumas stepped to the free-throw line with Dunham leading 49-47. Three days earlier, Dumas made two free throws that gave the Knights a victory over Riverside Academy.
Dumas, who had tied it at 47 with a twisting layup 27 seconds earlier, made the first shot. But the second trickled off the rim. Dumas’ last-ditch shot on the inbounds pass was well-defended and off the mark.
The drama capped the Tigers rally from a 16-point deficit in the third quarter to claim the Division III crown with a win over District 8-2A rival Episcopal at the LHSAA boys basketball tournament Saturday afternoon.
“That is how Dunham and Episcopal do it, for those of you who don’t know it,” Dunham coach Jonathan Pixley said. “And for anybody who questioned that Episcopal belonged in this game — that is a very well-coached team and they have good players. They gave us everything we wanted, and we knew they would. We are very fortunate to come out on the winning end.”
The 6-foot-5 Wright scored 10 of his game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter and was voted title-game MVP after making 9 of 16 shots from the floor at Burton Coliseum, an arena where he made a game-winning shot against 3A finalist Peabody in an early-season tournament. Oddyst Walker scored 10 third-quarter points after the second-seeded Tigers (26-7) changed their pressure defense.
“I knew the amount of work I put in and the confidence I have,” Wright said. “I knew I had to make a play for my team.”
Dumas, who scored 20 points, was the lone double-figure scorer for Episcopal (34-4). Brandon Garrido added nine.
“I had a couple (of free throws) that rimmed out,” Dumas said. “I thought the last one was going in for sure, but it came up a little short.”
Episcopal coach Chris Beckman said if the game was replayed he would want Dumas at the line again to end the game.
“It’s a very disheartening feeling right now,” Beckman said. “I thought the guys competed hard. When we got up by double figures, in the back of my mind I thought it might be a bad thing. I thought we got complacent. Give them credit, they stormed back and we knew they would.”
With 5:02 to go in the first quarter, it was 5-all. Episcopal closed the quarter on a 10-1 run. Garrido’s 3-pointer from the right wing on a assist from Dumas as the clock expired sent the Knights into the second quarter with a 15-6 lead.
Dunham got within five at 17-12 on Salle Wilson’s jumper in the lane with 4:50 left in the half. The teams traded baskets before Episcopal put together a 5-0 surge that included a dunk and free throw by Zac Holloway. The Knights led 26-15 at halftime.
The lead swelled to 33-17, forcing Pixley to call a timeout with 5:57 left in the third quarter. Walker scored the next 10 points, thanks in part to turnovers forced by the Tigers’ run-and-jump defensive change that included the insertion of 6-4 Mason Bourgeois.
Episcopal led 40-37 going into the fourth quarter. Wright gave Dunham its first lead at 41-40 with two free throws with 6:09 remaining. The Tigers led by as much as three before Dumas tied it with 28.2 seconds to go.
“What a game,” Pixley said. “Both schools represented Baton Rouge well.”