Ladue Holds off Duchesne. Claims First Ever MICDS Championship.

The Ladue Rams have reached a new height as they knock off the Duchesne Pioneers, a perennial power in the St. Louis area, to take home the school's first ever MICDS Holiday Tournament championship.

Hundreds gathered in the McDonald Gymnasium on the MICDS campus to watch the epic conclusion of the 2013 MICDS Hoiliday Tournament. Many neutrals got to see the event because it was the only high level tournament going on in the area, which made the build up to the contest huge.

Both teams came out smoking hot.

Ladue scored first right out of the gate. Andrew Maddock controlled the tip off to Connor Spirtas, who drove hard to basket, and drew a foul. He made both of his shots. Duchense came right back with a 3 pointer from Clay Stulce. Jon Collins then answered by cutting to the basket for a layup. Mike McDonald of Duchesne hit a running floater after breaking Ladue's half court trap. Seconds later Johnston dribbled up to Stulce, body feinted, which caused Stulce to drift backwards, and then calmly hit a 3 pointer. Duchesne followed that up with a nice feed from Sam Briscoe to Ryan Tune underneath for a reverse layup. Briscoe then was called for his second foul on the next possession within 2 minutes of the game. Ladue took advantage. Johnston dribbled his way past Stulce again and no look passed to a wide open Spirtas in the corner, who then knocked down another 3 pointer. Duchesne answered his 3 pointer with a 3 pointer from Stulce after a couple of cross court passes.

Before anyone knew it, it was 10 all, 2 minutes into the game and both teams were perfect from the field.

Both teams finally showed they were human when Johnston missed a 3 pointer, but stole a pass on the next possession. Later, Maddock giddy up'd his way to the basket on a backdoor pass. Then Drew Moore of Duchesne travelled.

The Pioneers were the first ones to break the mini drought when McDonald got an offensive rebound and hit a 15 footer.

Sophomore Mark Rogers, after not having played any minutes throughout the tournament because of a suspension, finally got his first action. He made the most of it by drawing a foul and hitting a three to go up 13-12.

Jeremy Loftin then came into the picture when he hit 3 pointer similar to where he hit his game changing 3 point shot against St. Charles the night before. Two possessions later the Rams got another steal. Johnston found a streaking Rogers and laid it up and in to give the Rams a 20-14 lead. However the ref gave Rogers a technical foul for getting in the way of the Duchesne inbounder. The Pioneers made both of their freebies. 

The Pioneers then held the ball out for one shot until Johnston picked Ryan Moore's pocket at the free throw line, raced to the other end of the floor, and got his lay up off in time before the horn sounded. He did that all in 3 seconds.

Ladue had the lead at 22-16. They kept it up.

The Rams on defense stifled Drew Moore whenever he got the within 15 feet of the basket. Maddock and Johnston did whatever they could to put him off. If he was within 5 feet then another Ram came over and applied pressure as well. Ladue's help defense was incredible too. Whenever Duchesne passed the ball outside, the Ladue guards always got back out in time before a Pioneer could unleash a shot. To summarize, it was hard to score against the Rams during the 2nd quarter.

Loftin put Ladue ahead 27-16 with a long range 3 pointer. Duchesne then called timeout. It did not stop the bleeding. The Rams outscored the Pioneers 10-0 to start the 2nd quarter. One particular eye catching play was when Johnston body feinted and cross-overed his way past a defender. When it looked like he was going to attack, he dished the ball out to an open Spirtas for a 3 pointer and he knocked it down.

The score would have been much worse had it not been for Ryan Tune. He nailed 2 3 pointers to chip away against the Rams. However, 8 points is what all the Pioneers could muster in the 2nd quarter.

The first half ended with Ladue having a shocking 39-24 lead. Their defense was so far stunning and they were taking the undefeated Pioneers to school.

However things would not stay the same because it is one thing to shock a great team, but very rarely do the underdogs maintain the lead and keep it going.

Both teams turned the ball over on their first possessions to start the 2nd half. However Ryan Tune got 6 points to cut the deficit to nine. With Duchesne creeping over Ladue's shoulder, the Rams came right back with 5 quick points.

Later with the score at 44-34. Sam Briscoe fouled Jeremy Loftin when he was driving to the basket. Then Drew Moore for some reason, got T'd by an official. Loftin shot 4 free throws and made 3 of them to put Ladue up 47-34.

Duchesne got back up from the canvas again by virtue of their bigs. Jace Genenbacher, just into the game, hit a hook shot followed by a another 3 pointer by Ryan Tune to cut the deficit to 8 points to end the 3rd quarter.

Momentarily the 4th quarter started out well for Ladue. They forced a turnover and Jerrid Cosby scored off of it on a fast break. However Duchesne came right back with a basket by Genenbacher and a breakaway lay up by Ryan Briscoe to cut the lead to 49-43. It was the closest Duchesne had been since the end of the 1st quarter. 

Genenbacher made it 51-46 with under six minutes to go. By that time he had 6 points and forced 2 turnovers. The game was slipping away from Ladue during that time. Johnston however, brought some comfort with 2 floating baskets in the paint to put the Rams up by 7 twice. He nearly made it a 9 point game with another floater, but the ball rimmed out and was tipped out to Stulce for a fast-break and converted on an and one. The lead was down to four with 4:20 to play.

Ladue again got another momentary rest-bite when Johnston smartly dished off to an open Maddock for 2 points as he was driving through the lane. Duchesne then got another and one when Maddock got a rebound off of a missed free throw, then got stripped of the ball, McDonald then scooped up the loose ball, and made a layup while Maddock tried to make up for his turnover.

Ryan Tune cut the lead to 55-53 when he sank 2 free throws. with 3 minutes to play. The score was then at 57-55 and Duchesne had the ball after Ladue had two chances to score on the previous possession. However the Pioneers unforced, through the ball out of bounds with 1:19 left.

With that much time left, the Cornell Johnston keep away show began. He weaves away from the defenders constantly. Spirtas eventually gets fouled by Sam Briscoe with 52 seconds to play, which was his 5th foul. Spirtas makes 1 of 2 and on the ensuring possession, Johnston came up with another breakaway steal, but he pulls up and lets more time go off the clock. Some will consider it a wise move and some will consider it a too smart move, but time was of the essence for Duchesne and they did foul Maddock after a timeout was taken. He made 1 of 2 shots as well.

Clay Stucle then did a good job of driving to the basket and getting fouled in the process with 15 seconds to go. He sank both of his shots to make it a 2 point game.  Johnston was fouled and got his first shot to go, despite the ball touching every bit of the rim. He missed the second one though which set up a window for Duchesne to tie the game with a 3 pointer.

Ryan Moore raced up the court and handed the ball off the Stulce. He then passed to Genenbacher, who was the least qualified player to take the shot for the Pioneers. But he had too. He put a nice looking arc on his shot, but it hit off the back rim where Spirtas knocked the ball away from 2 other Pioneers and that was all she wrote.

The Ladue Rams were crowned champions of the MICDS Holiday Tournament for the first time ever and more importantly they picked up a huge win for their playoff resume against the undefeated Duchesne Pioneers.

Here are the stats real quick.

Cornell Johnston: 14 points. 10 assists. 6 steals.

Connor Spirtas: 14 points. 4 rebounds. Made all 3 of his 3 point attempts.

Jeremy Loftin: 9 points. 4 rebounds. 2 for 3 from 3 point land.

Andrew Maddock: 7 points. 10 rebounds.

Mark Rogers: 6 points. Played his best impact game of the season.

Jon Collins: 4 points all in the 1st quarter. 6 rebounds.

Jerrid Cosby: 4 points. 2 rebounds. 1 assist. 1 steal. 

The Rams next game will be against Westminster, but due to expected snow it may not happen. Therefore their next game will most likely be against the underrated Jennings Warriors (6-3) on Friday at Nielson Gymnasium. The Warriors have also beaten McClure North, lost to Hazelwood Central in overtime, and took 5th place at the Meremac Holiday Tournament. It will not be an easy game. Much like this one.

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