The DeMatha express continues to roll down the tracks with all the momentum of a locomotive.
DeMatha built a double-digit lead in the opening minutes vs. Newark Memorial that provided the Stags all the cushion they needed to weather a stiff challenge down the stretch, 64-49.
The unbeaten Stags went ahead of Newark Memorial 19-4 in the first quarter, but with a pressure defense and hot shooting from 3-point range, the Cougars stayed within single digits of DeMatha much of the way in Thursday’s primetime contest.
The Cougars buried eight 3-pointers, including three by Joey Frenchwood. DeMatha retaliated with a deep stroke of its own. Jarius Lyles’ three 3-pointers led the Stags, who hit seven as a team.
At one stretch, five of six scoring possessions between the two sides came from beyond the arc.
Frenchwood finished with 12 points to lead Newark Memorial’s balanced rally effort. Casey Norris and Damien Banford each notched 10, and Paramvir Singh scored seven before fouling out.
The Cougars threw all they had DeMatha’s way, but were unable to cut the Stags’ lead to any fewer than three. DeMatha slammed the door in the fourth quarter behind its own well-spread offensive showing.
Four Stags scored in double digits, with Lyles’ 15 points leading the way. Center BeeJay Anya and guard James Robinson each had 11 points.
The Stags’ 6-foot-8, Syracuse-bound forward Jerami Grant scored 10 points, including two of the most scored in the tournament.
Grant streaked down the paint in the second half, receiving a shovel pass in the lane that he cradled in his right hand, caulked back, and hammered threw the rim. His dunk brought the Torrey Pines Gym audience to its collective feet.
DeMatha extended its steady lead in the waning minutes from the foul line. On a day punctuated with poor foul shooting, the Stags were a notable exception, connecting on 21-for-29.
The win elevates head coach Mike Jones’s squad into Friday night’s title game, where awaiting the Stags are the Wildcats of Windward. Windward bested Taft in the nightcap.