Tigers fall in regional semifinal

Posted on 20 February 2014 by LeslieM

Pages 09-16By Gary Curreri

And just like that, Blanche Ely’s hopes for a boys’ basketball three-peat were squashed by a team that had its number all season. The Blanche Ely boys’ basketball team dropped a 61-54 decision in the Class 7A regional semifinal to host Boyd Anderson on Tuesday night, and, with it, vanished a spot in history.

Blanche Ely (21-5), which last season became the first boys’ basketball team to win back-to-back titles as it joined Dillard (2000-03) and Pine Crest (2008-09). They came up short in their bid to become the 12th in state history to win three consecutive titles.

Cobras’ guard Pitchon Pierre sank eight free throws in the fourth quarter as host Boyd Anderson (24-5) held off a late charge by the two-time defending Class 7A state champion to pull out the win. Pierre finished with 12 points, 5 assists, 3 steals and 3 rebounds.

Blanche Ely (21-5), which had won 11 consecutive playoff games, closed to within two points at 45-43 with 6:24 left in the game, but struggled at the line and fell for the fourth consecutive time in five meetings against Boyd Anderson this season. The Cobras were 19 of 24 from the line, while Ely converted just 14 of 24 from the charity stripe.

It was a well-fought game, and what killed us was we lost it at the free throw line,” said Tigers coach Melvin Randall. “We missed double digits at the line.

You have to get to the line and knock them down and we didn’t. That was an important factor in the game. We have been shooting like that off and on the entire season. We had a couple of games this season where we shot 70-plus percent, but we made it hard in games this year by missing what we did at the line.”

Boyd Anderson’s Rodney Simeon had 17 points, while Nick Eubanks added 14 points and eight rebounds. Lance Tejada led Blanche Ely with 18 points, while Therell Gosier and Javon Heastie each had 11.

Boyd Anderson jumped out to a 12-8 lead in the first quarter as Simeon scored seven of his team-high 17 points and Dondre Duffus hit a 3-pointer with 2:05 remaining in the period.

Blanche Ely battled back to take a 15-14 lead as it scored the first four points of the second quarter on two free throws by Javon Heastie and a basket off a steal by Gosier.

The host Cobras then went on an 8-0 run to take the lead for good at 22-15 on two free throws by Diondre Wilson. Boyd Anderson led 27-21 at halftime and extended the advantage to 29-21 on a rebound and layup by Nick Eubanks. Tejada then got hot as he made a free throw and a short jumper and found Gosier cutting to the basket for a layup to trim the lead to 26-29 with six minutes left in the third quarter.

The Tigers were also dealt a blow in the third quarter when Gosier was whistled for two fouls in a 38-second span and had to sit with four fouls and Boyd Anderson leading 30- 28. Gosier had scored eight points, pulled down nine rebounds and blocked three shots until then and didn’t re-enter the game until there was 3:02 remaining and the Cobras leading 51-46.

The game seesawed back and forth; however, the Tigers, which had won 11 consecutive playoff games, could get no closer than two points at 45-43 with 6:24 left.

I am disappointed, but I am not upset or mad that we lost,” said Tigers coach Melvin Randall. “It would be selfish for me to bicker. Of course, I wanted to win; but, in looking back, I have been there six times and won five.”

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