STORY BY CHIP CIRILLO | PHOTO BY WHITNEY JARRELD
Carlos Stewart missed his first nine 3-point attempts, but hit the one that mattered most.
Stewart buried a 3-pointer with 14.6 seconds left, giving Dunham (Baton Rouge, La.) a 53-52 win over Brentwood Academy in a Next Level Hoops Fest semifinal on Friday night at Christ Presbyterian Academy.
“A lot was going through my head, but all I thought about was coach telling me, ‘Keep on shooting,’ ” Stewart said. “And I shot the ball and it went in. No loss of confidence.”
Desean Woods grabbed a long rebound and passed it quickly to Stewart.
Leading 52-50, BA’s B.J. Davis missed a chance to give the Eagles (10-2) a four-point lead when he missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw with 29.1 seconds left, giving Dunham (13-2) one last chance.
The defending Class 2A champion from Louisiana rallied from a nine-point deficit with four minutes remaining.
“We didn’t do the right things on offense and we made a lot of bad decisions down the stretch,” BA coach Hubie Smith said. “And then we had two breakdowns defensively the last two possessions and they scored on both of them. We just didn’t make the plays at the end of the game and they did.”
BA, the two-time defending tournament champion, faces Oak Ridge (10-4) in the third-place game at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Dunham meets Whitehaven (11-4) in the 8 p.m. championship.
Marcus Fitzgerald led the Eagles with 16 points and Clay Holmes added 14, including four 3-pointers.
“They got hot and we didn’t play great defense,” Holmes said. “We allowed them to hit some shots that we shouldn’t have. We have to play a lot smarter as a team.”
Adam Wass scored 11 points for the Eagles, who played without their only returning starter (Devyn Curtis) from last year’s Division II-AA champion. He may return in early January.
BA’s leading scorer (28 ppg) and rebounder (8.5), Randy Brady, missed his second straight game with flu-like symptoms that landed him in the emergency room several days ago. He’s unlikely to return for Saturday’s game.
“A lot of things we do go through Randy and all of a sudden things we’ve been running, we can’t run because our other guys aren’t that role,” Smith said. “We’ve had to kind of learn on the fly a little bit.”
Jordan Wright led Dunham with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Ralph Davenport added 13 and Salle Wilson scored 12.
“Last year in the state championship game we were down 18 in the third quarter and came back and won the game,” Dunham coach Jonathan Pixley said. “So, this is a very resilient group. We didn’t shoot it nearly as well as we normally do, but I think Brentwood’s defense had something to do with that. Carlos shoots it like it’s going in every time, so even though he was struggling tremendously he moves on to the next shot. It’s impressive for a guy that age (sophomore) to not feel any pressure or anxiety.”
Whitehaven 70, Oak Ridge 66
Junior guard Matthew Murrell had 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists in Whitehaven’s semifinal win. The four-star prospect has at least nine offers, including Tennessee.
“He’s supremely talented,” Whitehaven coach Faragi Phillips said. “He’s the engine to what we do. He reminds me of a young Russell Westbrook. He’s extremely athletic, he’s a high flyer, but he plays with so much poise. He’s a knockdown shooter as well.”
Murrell is projected as a college point guard.
Whitehaven’s Jordan Wilmore, a 7-4 junior, added 11 points and five rebounds. He got an offer from Tennessee on Thursday.
“He’s coming around,” Phillips said. “He plays with a mean streak, which is always good. And he wants to get better. I know one thing, he’s huge.”
Herbert Booker scored 19 points to lead four Oak Ridge starters in double figures.
Photo from previous game.