Tatum Time, just in time. Jayson Tatum, the much talked about freshman sensation at Chaminade was mostly silent in the first half of the Class 5, District 2 championship game before a packed house at Ladue Friday night. Tatum scored just two points in the opening half. But he was a scoring machine in the last 16 minutes and hit 10 of 14 free throws in the closing minutes to lead Chaminade (18-8) over Ladue (21-6) 64-55 to collect the first-place hardware.
Nothing came as a surprise to Red Devil coach Kelvin Lee. “Jayson played like a freshman in the first half,” said Lee, moments after the first-place trophy was hoisted. In the second half, he nailed 18 points, wiping out a Ladue first-half 15-5 lead.
Ladue found some tough going before the home crowd. Center Austin DaGue was smacked in the face and left with a bloody nose. Senior forward Andrew Maddock was belted in the face and momentarily lost a contact lens. Guard Cornell Johnson spent many moments on the deck, knocked down by bigger stronger Red Devil players.
A turning point came midway through the third. Ladue coach Chad Anderson picked up his first technical foul of his career. “I told the ref he missed two calls in a row. He hit me with a technical.”
Chaminade capitalized with four points and a 29-43 was the start up of the mountain the Rams could not scale any longer.
Ladue lives and dies by the three-point shot. Cameron Harder, Johnson and Connor Spirtas missed wide open shot after shot.
Kelvin Lee, Chaminade coach:
Quote One: “We had to fight for this one. You have to give Ladue credit. They had a good game plan. We had a sub par first half, and came out and played basketball the way we know how.”
Quote Two: “Jayson Tatum had just two first-half points. He played like a freshman. He was caught up in the moment. My freshman stepped up and made those big free throws.”
Quote three: “They (Ladue) were getting at it. They were getting all those lose balls. They are well coached.”
Jayson Tatum, freshman sensation.
Quote 1: “The first half wasn’t much. I had a couple of turnovers. My teammates helped me out.
Quote 2: “I love my teammates. I love these guys. We always come together.”
Andy Kleinlein, gutty senior
Quote 1: “This was a fun game. Coach said “come to Chaminade and you get to play on the big stage.’” “That’s what it was.”
Quote 2: “We love to play in front of these crowds, on the big stage. That’s why we practice hard every day.”
Chad Anderson, Ladue coach
Quote 1: “I’m still proud of our kids. I can’t think of any game where they didn’t play as hard as they could.”
Quote 2: “It came down to the second half. We went cold and couldn’t find any rhythm on offensive,”
Top Scorers: Chaminade:
Jayson Tatum 16 points; Grant Hollander 14, Andrew Kleinlein 11 points.
Andrew Maddock 19 points; Cornell Johnson 13 points; Connor Spirtas 10 points.