There will be a new Class 7A boys’ basketball state champion and No. 3 Boyd Anderson is ready to assume the vacant throne.
The Cobras appear to be in the drivers’ seat after defeating two-time defending state champion Blanche Ely 61-54 in the regional semifinals at Boyd Anderson on Tuesday.
Boyd Anderson (24-5) will host Nova in the 7A Regional finals on Saturday after winning its fourth consecutive matchup against the Tigers in a riveting 4-1 season series.
“If we keep working, we are going to states,” said Cobras 6-6 power forward Nick Eubanks. “It was real tough to beat Ely four straight times. Playing them prepared us to get tougher. That is why we stay in the gym. This is just the beginning.”
While the prior four matchups came down to the point guard battle between Ely star guard Lance Tejada and the Cobras’ Dondre Duffus, Round 5 was decided by Boyd Anderson’s superior talent and depth.
Although Tejada, who struggled from the field, outscored Duffus 18-7, Boyd Anderson simply had more weapons, led by Eubanks (14 points), Rodney Simeon (17 points) and Pitchon Pierre (10 points).
“I didn’t play my best game but my teammates picked up the slack.” Duffus said. “That is what is going to take us to the next game and hopefully to states. We knew Tejada was their bull, their creator. If we took him out the game, we knew we would win.”
Despite Tigers 6-7 forward Therrell Gosier, Ely’s lone post presence sitting out with four fouls, No. 4 Ely (21-5) only trailed Boyd Anderson 43-41 going into the fourth quarter.
But Eubanks took advantage of Gosier’s absence by muscling his way inside for back-to-back layups, and Irving Pierre had a tip-in to push the Cobras’ lead to 51-44 with 4:12 left.
Ely fought until the bitter end and got the spark they needed when a driving layup from Joshua Floyd cut the deficit to 51-46 with 3:35 left. Any hope for a last-minute comeback, however, was lost when Javon Heastie followed with back-to-back misses from three-point range.
Heastie and Gosier finished with 11 points for Ely , which went cold from the three-point arc at the most inopportune time.
A relatively subdued Cobras’ partisan crowd to the start of the game came alive when Simeon caught an alley-oop from Diandre Wilson to put the Cobras up 14-11 with 33 seconds left in the first quarter.
Boyd Anderson appeared ready to put some distance between them and the Tigers holding a 25-17 lead with 3:09 left in the second quarter before Heastie hit a contested three-pointer in front of the Cobras’ bench to keep the Tigers within striking distance.
“My team put a lot into this game,’’ Simeon said. “We hustled, we did what we had to do to win. Ely made a run but we fought through it. We had Dondre facilitating and Nick coming up with some big rebounds. We have put all the pieces together.”.