With their turnaround season just minutes from extending to the CHSAA Championship game, St. Mary’s Chaz Morrish received the outlet pass and looked downcourt to find nothing between his teammate Chavaughn Lewis and the basket but open hardwood.
Morrish lobbed a short pass to Lewis, who took one dribble then rose up for a one-handed slam to give the No. 2 Gaels a nine-point lead with just under one minute remaining to put the finishing touches a 54-46 win over No. 3 Chaminade.
Lewis finished with a game-high 20 points, including 10 in a 19-10 third quarter as St. Mary’s overcame a 10-point first-half deficit.
"We continued to play hard," Lewis said. "We slacked off in the beginning but we never gave up. We had a game plan and we just executed it."
The Gaels used constant ball movement around the perimeter to combat the Flyer 2-3 defense that stationed 6-10 Kevin Hargrove in the paint. St. Mary’s had a two-point lead when they swung the ball around the arc and into the corner where Morrish drained a three with 3:40 remaining. On the next possession Morrish followed his own missed jumper and went up-and-under Hargrove for the lay-in and seven-point lead.
Morrish and Justin Bailey each finished with 11 points, and Charles McCann – the Gaels undersized 6-3 “center” who admirably battled under the boards with Chaminade’s bigs – added 10 points. Dylan Sinnickson led Chaminade with 14 points.
The Gaels struggled against the zone defense for a majority of the first half but ended the second quarter on a 7-0 run to pull within three at halftime. That momentum carried into the third quarter where Lewis completed a pair of three-point plays, the second giving St. Mary’s its first lead since midway through the first quarter.
Last year’s 8-16 record seems like a distant memory for St. Mary’s, who advance to the CHSAA championship game on Tuesday night at Hofstra.
“We have a very young team and we have played with each other for a long time,” Lewis said. “I’m grateful that we could pull it all together tonight.”
Post Game Reaction
Charles McCann on playing center: “I know I’m undersized, but when I was younger I was always the tallest. I’ve worked on my strengthening with my coaches and that makes it a little easier. But it’s hard because [Hargrove] is such a tall guy. I just had to [use me head] more.”
St. Mary’s coach Bill Harkins on his team’s improvement this season: “It’s been a process and we are finally turning the corner.”
On what St. Mary's did well against Chaminade: “On the defensive end, we decided that whoever was on the perimeter, we were going to make it difficult for them to make entry passes to the post and to their cutters. We wanted to make every pass that they made difficult. We also tried to push the ball up the court in the fourth quarter as much as we could and we got a couple transition baskets. The other part I think we did pretty well, picking them up full-court all game took them out of their normal flow.
On Lewis: “He is just a determined kid that wants to win. This is not one of his better games. When I say that he probably had about 20-something points and probably about 13 rebounds but it's his determination that put him over the top. Those numbers are just numbers. It was his will to win that is his greatest attribute on top of the athleticism and the basketball skills. He doesn't want to lose."