Neither Stratford nor Tattnall Square played in a home gym Thursday night, but that didn’t stop a raucous atmosphere from breaking out.
The top-seeded Eagles bounced back from two large deficits to survive a tough test from Tattnall Square in a 65-61 victory in the semifinals of the GISA Region 2-AAA tournament.
Stratford will play Mount de Sales Friday at 8:30 p.m. in the championship game.
“It was a lot of fun to play in,” Stratford senior Douglas Bradley said. “It was an intense game against a good team.”
D.J. Boyd scored 18 points and three other Stratford players finished in double figures.
Jonathan Hefner made a putback with 20 seconds left for what turned out to be the game winner. Bradley added a pair of free throws with 2.9 seconds left for the final margin.
Quintez Cephus scored 13 for the Eagles, while Bradley scored 11 and Hefner added 10. Aubrien Kemp led Tattnall with 19 points, and Will Trevitt and Ahmad Barron added 17 and 11 points, respectively.
“We had a lot of guys step up (Thursday),” Stratford head coach Jamie Dickey said. “Everyone contributed. We fought through some struggles for sure.”
Stratford trailed by eight points in the first half and nine points in the third quarter.
Bradley helped rally the Eagles with three straight baskets in the third, cutting into Tattnall’s nine-point advantage.
Stratford wouldn’t take the lead until the fourth quarter when Cephus scored eight points in the first 2:30 of the fourth quarter.
Tattnall regained the lead late on a 3-pointer by Kemp with 48 seconds left.
Cephus tied the game at 61-61 with a free throw, the Hefner scored the eventual game winner about 20 seconds later.
Tattnall turned the ball over on its two final possessions.
“I think we played great,” Tattnall head coach Edwin Cook said. “I’m so proud of my guys. They fought their hearts out.”
Tattnall played the aggressor for much of the night with the strong outside shooting of Kemp and Tevyn Rogers. The Trojans controlled the pace inside and outside at times and looked closer to pulling away from the Eagles with an 11-2 run to open the third quarter.
But Stratford never backed away, and the Eagles are always just one explosive run away from changing a game.
That happened twice Thursday, once in the first quarter when Stratford drifted eight points behind and again in the third when the Tattnall lead grew to nine.
Rogers made three 3-pointers in the third, including one just before the buzzer to give the Trojans a 48-43 lead heading into the fourth.
Cephus erased that lead with his run to open the fourth quarter, while Boyd added five in the fourth quarter.
“I thought (Boyd) played his best game of the year,” Bradley said.
A Boyd 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter gave Stratford a 57-52 lead, but Tattnall rallied with a 9-3 run to take the lead on Kemp’s 3-pointer with 48 seconds left.
Mount de Sales (boys) 61,Westfield 49
With Mount de Sales already set as the host of the region tournament, Cavaliers head coach Jim Massey told his team before the season their goal was to play for a region championship in front of their own fans.
That became a reality after a win over Westfield in the semifinals of the boys tournament on Thursday. His team will play in the claustrophobic environment of McAuley Hall on Friday. Most GISA coaches aren’t fans of the Cavaliers’ small downtown gym.
“I’m counting on our student body (Friday) showing up ... and just going ballistic,” Massey said. “It’s going to be a great atmosphere. Whether we play Stratford and their student body or we play Tattnall and their student body, it oughta be a whole lot of fun (Friday) night.”
Darius Wonnum led Mount de Sales with 19 points, while Carson Leatherwood scored 12 and Kyle Rhyne added 11. William Amos led Westfield with 19.
The Cavaliers advanced to the championship game with a strong fourth quarter that broke open a three-point game in the fourth.
The Cavaliers scored on consecutive baskets by Rhyne, Wonnum and Leatherwood to push the lead to nine points. Mount de Sales made eight foul shots down the stretch to maintain a comfortable margin.
“The game we’ve played against Westfield all year, they’ve put us at the free-throw line,” Massey said. “We you get chances to hurt people at the line at this time of the year, you’ve got to knock them down, and, for the most part, we did.”