LAKE CHARLES — Riverside Academy entered the game with a playoff history that includes 5 LHSAA championships and 2 runner-up finishes.
But with point guard Ty Spurlock scoring a game-high 25 points, The Dunham School had the firepower to claim a 79-63 Division III select semifinal victory over Riverside at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Boys Basketball tournament.
“The last couple of months I was struggling from the 3-point line,” Spurlock said. “I was told I should believe it will go in every time. I have confident and it did.”
Spurlock made 8 of 12 shots from the field, including 5 of 7 from behind the arc to set the tone as the defending champion Tigers (28-5) advanced to the title game for the third straight year at Burton Coliseum.
Fourth-seeded Riverside (16-17) kept it close in the first quarter, but had trouble battling back after Dunham scored eight points in the final 1:17 of the game that opened Wednesday's action.
“I want to congratulate Dunham and I’m proud of my seniors, Kash (Foley) and Isaiah (Bigham), who did an exceptional job,” Riverside coach Timmy Byrd said. “I thought we had three or four calls in a row go against us right at the end of the first quarter and I thought we never really recovered from that when they extended the lead to seven points.
“Both teams were in foul trouble. I thought we did a pretty good job shutting their other guys down. One thing we did not plan for was No. 14 — I believe that’s Spurlock — to hit 3s.”
Carlos Stewart added 18 and Desean Woods 14 for the Tigers. Jordan Wright spent much of the game in foul trouble and finished with 9 points. The 6-foot-6 senior had 9 assists for the Tigers, who shot 52.1 percent from the field.
Foley led Riverside with 17 points, while Bigham (16) and De’Juan Daniels (13) also scored in double figures. Foul trouble limited the Rebels’ top scorer Gage Larvadain to 19 minutes. He fouled out with 8 points — 11 below his season average.
Dunham was extremely efficient in the first half. The Tigers made 57.1 percent of their shots from the field (12 of 21). However, Dunham did not pull away until the final 1:17 of the first quarter.
Riverside led 13-12 after a basket by Foley with 2:40 remaining. That is where Dunham’s 3-point shooting took over. Point guards Spurlock and Woods each had a 3-pointer in the final 40 seconds as Dunham built a 20-13 first-quarter lead.
Spurlock hit 4 of 5 treys and had 15 first-half points. Stewart added 14. Foley and Bigham each had 8 for Riverside. A scoring drought of two and a half minutes was costly for the Rebels in the second period as Dunham built a 41-26 lead.
“You could just tell the level of experience with the guys who have been here and their ability to make it contagious for new guys like Carlos and Desean,” Dunham coach Jonathan Pixley said. “I think our schedule and everything we’ve done up to this point played a hand in that.”
Dunham kept much the same degree of separation in the third quarter. Riverside managed to cut the lead to 11 points twice in the third quarter, once on a basket by Foley and the other on a layup by Bigham. The Rebels got no closer.