KIRKWOOD -- The Ladue High boys basketball team advanced to the finals of the 46th Annual Jerry Boeckman Invitational/Vianney Tournament, thanks to a thrilling 56-52 win over favored Eureka High, Wednesday night at Vianney High School.
The Rams, who found out Thursday they will be the No. 10 ranked team in the city when most of the local prep basketball polls are released on Friday, showed they might deserve an even higher ranking in taking down Eureka.
The Wildcats were the No. 2 seed in the Vianney Tournament, but a brilliant second half by junior point guard Cornell Johnston and several timely finishes by teammates Austin DaGue and Jordan Cosby, helped the Rams run right past Eureka, which led 27-26 at halftime.
In that fateful second half though, Johnston took over the game.
On nearly every possession, the 5'9, 160-pounder would bring the ball upcourt and work his dribble until whatever Eureka defender was guarding him at the time made a move for the ball.
And in an instant, Johnston would take off for the basket, forcing another defender to leave his man, and allowing the Ladue point guard to dish off to his teammates for open shots.
The Rams quickly turned that one-point halftime deficit into a lead, thanks to a 9-0 run at the start of the third quarter, which included a three-point bucket by Cosby and a traditional three-point play by DaGue.
Eureka did rally in the fourth, and even managed to grab a brief lead at 45-44, with just under four minutes left in the game, following a tremendous dunk by senior Gino Green.
Cosby answered with another three from the corner, and Johnston set up two easy baskets for teammate and fellow junior Andrew Maddock to give Ladue back control of the game.
From there, the Rams made Eureka take several tough shots and knocked down seven free throws in the final two minutes to close out the victory.
DaGue was the leading scorer on the night for Ladue with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Cosby added a career-high 12 points, and Johnston finished with 12 points and 10 assists.
Junior Mason Bendigo had a game-high 16 points for Eureka, with Green and senior Tyler Green adding 12 points.
Eureka (1-1) will play top-seeded Hazelwood Central (1-1) in the third-place game, Friday at 5 p.m. The Hawks were also upset in the semifinals by fourth-seeded Belleville West.
The Maroons (2-0), who are led by high-scoring senior swingman and future Lindenwood recruit, Nick Van Osdale, defeated No. 3-ranked Hazelwood Central 75-61 on Wednesday.
Ladue (2-0) and Belleville West will play in the Vianney Tournament final, Friday at 6:30 p.m.
UPCOMING LADUE RAMS BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
Fri., Nov. 30 vs. Belleville West at Vianney 6:30 pm
Tue., Dec. 4 at Brentwood 7 pm
Fri., Dec. 7 at Parkway North 7 pm
Wed., Dec. 12 vs. John Burroughs 7 pm
(Ladue's first game on the new floor at LHWHS' Neilsen Gymnasium)
Thur., Dec. 13 at Westminster Christian 7 pm
Sat., Dec. 14 vs. Ft. Zumwalt North at Lindenwood 10 am
(Terrell Ramey Midwest Shootout at Lindenwood's Hyland Arena)
Dec. 22-29 MICDS Holiday Tournament