The Dunham School's boys basketball team showed it could put its foot on the gas any time it needed to Friday night against University High.
The Cubs rallied from huge deficits twice in the second half, but the Tigers pulled away each time as they posted an 83-74 win at Dunham.
Dunham took a 41-28 lead early in the third quarter, but U-High responded with a 9-0 run.
Not a problem.
Dunham (19-3) went on a 19-4 run that appeared to have the game put away. But after the Tigers eventually took a 60-44 lead into the fourth quarter, U-High (11-9) came up with another surge. This time, a 17-7 spurt had the Cubs within 67-61 with five minutes left to play.
Jordan Wright drove to the basket for two of his 18 points, and Carlos Stewart hit two free throws to push the lead back out to 10. U-High was only able to get as close as nine points the rest of the way.
Stewart finished with 23 points. Ralph Davenport made four 3-pointers and tallied 19 while Salle Wilson added 14 for Dunham.
Bryton Constantin, who missed part of the early portion of the season while playing for the Cubs football team, scored 18. Also hitting double figures for U-High were Shawn Jones (17) and Jordan Gilbert (12).
“Since (U-High) got their football guys back, they’re a different team,” Dunham coach Jonathan Pixley said. “They’ve got a lot of athleticism, and they’re very well-coached. They’re a good team. I don’t care what their record is.”
The game turned into a free-throw shooting contest in the fourth quarter, and Dunham was up to the task. With U-High having to foul to keep time from running off the clock, Dunham made 15 of 20 free throw attempts in the quarter and 27 of 34 for the game.
Gilbert and Constantin were effective driving to the basket and helped the Cubs hit 11 of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter, and 18 of 25 overall.
“We’re a little behind most teams as far as trying to play as a cohesive unit,” U-High coach Joe Spencer said in reference to his team’s late arrivals. “Our goal is to just keep trying to get better as we move toward the playoffs.
“This is a tough place to play, so we’re not going to get down on ourselves.”
The opening quarter was close until Davenport’s 3-pointer gave Dunham a 14-9 lead with three minutes left. Wilson and Stewart also scored baskets as the Tigers moved out to a 22-10 lead.
In the second quarter, the lead grew as large as 33-16, but U-High wouldn’t go away. Bryce Brown had two late baskets, and Constantin hit a pull-up jumper with two seconds left in the half.
Dunham took a 39-28 lead into halftime.
“Its uncharacteristic of us, but we were coming off a long road trip,” said Pixley, whose team played seven games in 10 days, including the Sugar Bowl tournament in New Orleans and another in Nashville.
“Its one of those things where they still are high school kids, so when it gets to this point in the season everyone goes through a lull at some point. You can’t do that against a team that’s that athletic and expect to get the point differential you think you can.”