The Ely Tigers have a saying. They want to “Beat the Drum.” They beat the drum hard Thursday night, beating St. Thomas Aquinas like a drum 72-37 in the Region 4-7A quarterfinals at Ely.
The Raiders were the only team to compete with Ely last year in the playoffs. Ely edged Aquinas 56-52 in that game. It was the only battle that Ely had en route to the Class 7A state championship. This one never had a chance.
Ely (23-1) jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the first 1:52 of the game with relentless pressure defense and led by 15 at the end of the first 21-6.
“We want to keep teams as far as possible and not letting them come, just keep beating the drum, beating the drum and never give them hope to come back and beat us,” Ely’s Khalil Thomas said.
It was never close. Ely pushed the lead to 33-9 before St. Thomas (18-6) made its only run. The Raiders scored nine in a row to close it to 33-18, but the Tigers came right back with a 12-0 run and led 45-18 before taking a 47-22 lead into the break.
The Tigers pushed it into running clock in the third following a three-pointer by Richard Lee with 2:20 to play in the quarter. Ely led by as many as 37 points.
Thomas led Ely with 23 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and three blocks.
Lee added 19 points while Lance Tejada found open guys all night with 10 assists.
“We just need to continue to play the way we are playing, stress defense, defense creates offense. We try to make a lot of stops,” Ely coach Melvin Randall said.
Ely will play the Northeast on Tuesday.
STA (18-6): Haney, Jr. 13, Wilkinson 2, N’Diaye 4, London 1, Powell 2, Umude 10, Maturah 1, Hunter 3. ELY (23-1): Lee 19, Allen 5, Thomas 23, Tejada 6, Cameron 12, Labadi 3, Gosier 2, Jackson 2. Half: ELY 47-22. Three-pointers: Lee 2, Cameron 2, Tejada, Haney, Jr., Labadi. Rebounds: Thomas 12. Assists: Tejada 10. Steals: Thomas 4. Blocks: Thomas 3.
• Region 4-5A quarterfinal — American Heritage 75, Jensen Beach 27: American Heritage cleared the bench as the Patriots soundly eliminated outmatched Falcons at American Heritage.
The running clock was underway following a 22-0 third-quarter run that gave Heritage (20-7) a 66-23 lead with one minute left in the third quarter.
Reserve center Luke McCormick completed the spurt with an inside basket; he then opened the fourth quarter with a three-point jumper that produced an eruption in the home gym.
With their size advantage and ball pressure defense (alternating between man-to-man and the 1-2-2 zone), the Patriots were off and running out of the gate, taking a commanding 36-19 halftime lead.
Kobe Eubanks led he Patriots with a game-high 20 points and Josh Borders had 13, including three three-pointers.
Drake LaMont, Heritage’s 6-9 center, scored all his 13 points in the first half. He, along with Eubanks and Bryant Hill had five first-half rebounds apiece as the Patriots outrebounded the Falcons by a 22-11 margin through two quarters.
Jensen Beach, in fact, allowed four second-chance rebounds on the same possession during a sequence midway in the second quarter.
JB: Thompson 8, Alexis 7, Eudman 5, Baker 4, Spugnadi 3. AMH: Eubanks 20, LaMont 13, Borders13, Ju .Massey 9, Ja. Massey 6, McCormick 5, Hill 4, Mullings 4, Johnson 1. Halftime: AMH 36-19. Rebounds: LaMont 9. Assists: Ju. Massey 6. Steals: Ja. Massey 5