LAKE CHARLES - De La Salle ended a 21-year state championship drought last season.
But as the Cavaliers found out on Tuesday night, doing it again can be tough.
No. 3 De La Salle saw its repeat bid come to a halt with a 64-59 loss to No. 2 University High in the Division II semifinals at Burton Coliseum.
"All credit to U-High," said De La Salle coach Paul Kelly. "They are big and strong and they hurt us on the glass. I thought they were more aggressive and longer and better finishers around the basket. We were not successful finishing around the goal. That was really the difference in the game."
The game was a rematch of last season's championship game De La Salle won 81-69 for the Uptown school's first title since 1986.
But U-High (21-12) got its revenge and advanced to Friday's 8 p.m. championship game to play top-seeded St. Thomas More.
De La Salle, which lost four starters from last year's squad, finished 20-11.
"I'm proud of our guys efforts," Kelly said. "We fought really hard. We had a really slow start for whatever reason. That's my responsibility and my fault. I'm proud of the way we responded and fought back. It came down to making one or two plays and we just weren't able to."
The game was tied 52-52 with 3:30 left when U-High's Eric Reed scored on a lay-up that put his team ahead to stay.
De La Salle' Jalen Ned made a 3-pointer to cut it to 56-55, but Reed answered with a clutch 3-pointer.
"They just had the momentum and we just couldn't shift back from it," said De La Salle's Noble Scott.
Ned, who finished with 17 points, was the only player in double digits for De La Salle.
Abiram Frye finished with nine points and Malcolm Coleman scored eight. Scott, Jalen Henry, and John Kelly scored six each.
"I thought it was hard fought game, which is really what I expected," said U-High coach Joe Spencer. "De La Salle is such a tough team, well coached team. They are never out of the game. It was just a battle until the end."
It didn't seem like it would be that way early on.
De La Salle trailed by as many as 11 points on two separate occasions in the second quarter.
But the Cavaliers got going in the final three minutes. A layup by Frye closed out a 7-0 Cavalier run and cut U-High's lead to 32-28 at halftime.
De La Salle's Henry buried back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Cavs a 36-33 lead with 6:41 left in the third quarter. It was their first lead since the opening minutes. They stretched the lead to 42-35 before U-High's Eric Reed hit a 3-pointer to get the Cubs back on track.
Reed scored a game-high 27 points to lead the Cubs, including eight fourth quarter points.
Bryton Constantin added 12 points and game-high 15 rebounds, while Milan Mejia had 11 points for the Cubs.
"Hats off to U High," Kelly said. "They played the better ball game and the deserve to be in the finals... (For us) to win 20 games and to get back here and to be a possession or two of getting to the championship game, I'm proud of them."