The Cathedral Phantoms have faced off against big teams all year, but a 5’8” junior almost handed them a loss at the CIF State Division III Regional Semifinals Tuesday night.
Alemany guard Shac Dawkins put on a show, scoring 31 points, including 10 straight, but Cathedral came out on top, 72-64, to move on to the Regional Finals.
The Alemany Warriors came out and quickly built up a 5-0 lead. However, the Phantoms kept them at bay, and took a 17-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter went back and forth. The Phantoms’ Milan Acquaah led all players with 13 points in the first half, and his efforts gave his team a 32-28 lead.
Acquaah hit a buzzer-beating three at the end of the third, which boosted the Phantoms to their biggest lead of the game thus far, 51-43. Acquaah finished with a team-high 28 points.
Cathedral eventually pushed their lead into double digits lead. They led by 12 with four minutes to go.
Trailing by 10 in the fourth quarter, Alemany started to press. Playing with nothing to lose, they came back. For three straight possessions, Cathedral could not advance the ball past half court. All three possessions ended in a steal and Shac Dawkins scoring at the other end. Dawkins went on a 10-0 run during this stretch. He had 14 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter.
“We fought hard until the end,” Dawkins said. “They [Cathedral] controlled the tempo until the last couple minutes when we pressed and got back into the game."
The last bucket of this 10-0 run brought the Warriors within two. That’s when Cathedral figured out how to break their press. The Phantoms built their lead up to 67-61 with under a minute to go.
But a DJ McDonald three-pointer brought the Warriors to within three with 29 seconds to go.
With limited time left, Alemany had to resort to fouling, and Cathedral took advantage, hitting five of six free throws. The Phantoms were 20 of 24 from the line for the game.
“Cathedral hit some big shots,” Dawkins said. “They made free throws and hit some big shots."
The Phantoms’ Lucas Siewert hit three of those free throws in the fourth quarter. He finished with 12 points on the night.
International phenom Kobe Paras added 19 points, hitting four 3-pointers for the Phantoms.
Cathedral will face Damien in the regional finals on March 21 at Colony High School in Ontario.