LAKE CHARLES — After De La Salle took the lead in the third quarter of Tuesday night's Division II semifinal, second-seeded University High needed something to sway the momentum.
A 3-pointer from the right corner by sophomore Milan Mejia did the trick, tying the game at with 4:30 remaining. Less than a minute later, Michael Douglas III put the Cubs ahead for good.
From there, U-High went on to score a 64-59 win over De La Salle in the final game of Tuesday’s session at the Sugar Bowl/LHSAA boys basketball tournament.
“I have faith (Mejia) is going to make every shot,” U-High’s Kyle Ross said. “So when I saw (the shot) go up, I knew.”
With the win, U-High (21-12) avenges a title-game loss to third-seeded De La Salle from a year ago. The Cubs advances to play top-seeded St. Thomas More in the Division II final set for 8 p.m. Friday at Burton Coliseum.
“Split or no split, it’s the Top 28 to me,” U-High coach Joe Spencer said. “We’ve got some guys … all they know is coming to this tournament. And we have new guys who have never won a title or been here. It is a lot of fun and I’m just glad the guys get this opportunity.”
Eric Reed scored a game-high 27 points to lead the Cubs. He made 11 of 17 shots from the field and scored eight fourth-quarter points, including a 3-pointer that extended the U-High lead to four points.
Bryton Constantin added 12 points and game-high 15 rebounds, while Mejia had 11 points. Jalen Ned, who finished with 17, was the only player in double digits for third-seeded De La Salle (20-11).
The game was tied at 3-3 until Reed scored on a tip in with 4:55 to go in the first quarter. Reed scored three more times and Mejia sank a 3-pointer from the right corner to help the Cubs build a lead.
U-High took a 17-10 lead into the second quarter. The Cavaliers got within three at 17-14 on a steal and layup by Ned less than two minutes into the second quarter. The Cubs pushed their lead to 11 points two times in the second quarter.
But De La Salle seized the momentum in the final three minutes and moved away from shooting 3-pointers. A layup by Abiram Frye closed out a 7-0 Cavalier run and cut the UHS lead to 32-28 at halftime.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Jalen Henry gave De La Salle its first lead since the opening minutes at 36-33 with 6:41 left in the third quarter. The Cavaliers built a seven-point lead. The Cubs’ Reed cut it to two on a transition basket by Reed, but DLS took a 45-41 lead into the final quarter.
Mejia’s 3-pointer at the 4:30 mark triggered a 14-9 run to close out the game for U-High.
“Through all my (four) years we’ve always been here (in the title game),” U-High’s Reed said. “It feels good to keep that streak going.”