University High's Maxwell Starwood dunks against Richwood during the Class 3A state championship game Saturday at Burton Coliseum. (Kirk Meche / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Monday, March 17, 2014 11:56 AMUniversity Lab guard Skyler Mays is known for his passing — he set the Top 28’s Class 3A assists record with 17 over two games Saturday afternoon.
But it was his ability to get to the basket that made the difference, making a contested layup with 41 seconds left put the Cubs up on the way to a 69-64 win and the Class 3A state title.
Mays’ layup was the final straw in a fourth quarter that featured four ties and seven lead changes after the teams went into the quarter tied 43-43.
“In the third quarter it looked like it was slipping away a little bit,” University head coach Joe Spencer said. “Richwood never quit; they play with so much heart and ‘Monsta’ (Richwood forward Reginal Johnson Jr.) is a true warrior and a great player. They’re all great competitors.”
With 12.2 seconds left and Richwood down 67-64, it took possession with a chance to tie. But Johnson’s 3-pointer hit the back of the rim and was rebounded by U-High forward D.J. White, who hit two free throws to salt the game away.
Johnson finished with a game-high 23 points.
“He was, like coach said, a very strong warrior,” University center Maxwell Starwood said, emphasizing strong.
“He’s like a basketball player in a football player’s body,” Mays said of Johnson. “He knows how to use his body and has great body control.”
Wayde Sims, voted Class 3A’s most outstanding player, led five Cubs in double figures with 19 points. But it was freshman John Jones, son of LSU head coach Johnny Jones, that nailed a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, both of which gave U-High a lead.
“He did a great job; he didn’t worry,” Spencer said. “He hasn’t shot the ball well all this year and he’s by far one of our better 3-point shooters. I tried to keep encouraging him because I want our shooters to keep shooting.”
The championship was the first for University since it won the 2A title in 2004.
“I’m just happy for my team,” Starwood said. “If it wasn’t for these guys I wouldn’t be here.”