University High’s boys and girls teams kept their unbeaten records intact with wins over Episcopal in a double District 7-2A shootout at U-High’s Pennington-McKernan Gym on Friday night, but they took totally different routes to victory.
The U-High girls fell behind 2-0, then led the rest of the way to hold off the Knights 56-44. The boys needed a 60-foot desperation shot by Skylar Mays with one second left in overtime to secure an incredible 67-65 win.
U-High Girls 56, Episcopal 44: The first quarter was all U-High as they ran out to an 18-6 lead over the cold-starting Knights.
The visitors had trouble with the press and couldn’t keep U-High off the boards. Terriel Ross had six points and Di’Mond Jackson five for the Cubs in the quarter.
“We played at the pace we wanted, but we missed a lot of free throws and a lot of layups,” Episcopal coach Travis Bourgeois said. “When you play a team as good as they are, you have to make the most of your opportunities and we didn’t. But we finally got in a rhythm and got some confidence and the girls played hard to the end.”
Episcopal (22-12, 9-3 in district) came to life and U-High cooled off in the second quarter. Led by Bria Johnson, the Knights closed the gap to 20-17 before U-High (28-6, 11-0) ran off the final seven points of the quarter for a 28-17 halftime lead.
“I think we got overconfident and stopped doing the things we did in the first quarter,” U-High coach Bonita Johnson said. “We stopped taking it to the rim, stopped running and stop rebounding.
U-High got a boost off the bench in the third quarter from Alanie Fisher and Marygrace Constantin. Fisher drilled two 3-pointers from the corner, and Constantin contributed rebounding, defense and 3-of-4 free-throw shooting.
The Cubs led by 10 after three quarters, and Episcopal never came closer than eight in the fourth quarter.
Jackson, U-High’s only senior, led them in scoring with 19, followed by Fisher and Terri Drake with 10.
Bria Johnson and Mary Melissa Hoover led Episcopal with 22 and 17 points respectively.
U-High Boys 67, Episcopal 65: Just another typical game in this fierce rivalry. A game that saw 14 ties and 19 lead changes came down to U-High (27-2, 11-0 in district) coming out of a timeout with one second remaining, down by one point and needing to go the length of the floor.
The in-bounds pass was tipped into the air, and it looked as if EHS had the upset, but Mays grabbed the ball and heaved it toward the goal where it banked off the backboard, whirled around the rim and dropped through.
One official made an emphatic signal that the basket counted, and the gym erupted, in jubilation for the Cubs and in anger and disbelief for the Knights.
“It was a great game, both teams fought hard, our kids battled to the end, and there’s no way that shot is good,” Episcopal coach Chris Beckman said.
“Ball was tipped, they caught it and took one dribble and shot in one second. No way. Poorly officiated for a big game.”
Up until the shot, Episcopal (22-9, 9-3) had outscored U-High 9-8 in the overtime, all on free throws. When Wayde Sims fouled Paul Johnson with one second left and Johnson calmly drained both free throws, it looked like the Cubs’ chance to go undefeated in district was gone.
“The main thing at the end of a game like that is you just want to get a shot,” U-High coach Joe Spencer said. “You hope it goes in, but you just want to give yourself a chance.
“We kind of drew something up, and it didn’t go the way we drew it up, but we had guys in the right position and it worked out OK.”
Episcopal spread the floor for most of the second half, playing with no one in the three-second lane, and Johnson, Spencer Kleinpeter and John Davis worked the offense to the maximum. Johnson led the Knights with 22 points, Kleinpeter chipped in 12, and Davis finished with nine.
“They had a great game plan,” Spencer said. “Tonight, they didn’t care if they scored 20 or 50 or whatever it took to win. We got kind of lackadaisical on defense and didn’t stop the dribble, and they gave us fits.”
Episcopal guard Stan Mays won the battle of the brothers, at least in total points, scoring 18 to U-High guard Skylar’s 13. But Skylar ruled the overtime period, scoring nine points including the game-winner.
D.J. Martin led the Cubs scoring with 21 points, including a burst when he had a 3-point play at the end of the third quarter and started the fourth with a 3-pointer.
Sims was the other Cub in double figures with 18 points.