Arts & Sciences recently completed a sixth consecutive undefeated run through the District 5-A regular season, but the Patriots entered Saturday night with a district tournament championship streak of zero.
Last year's Patriots were upset by Grace Academy in the 5-A final, but history did not repeat as CSAS cruised to a 58-43 triumph over the Golden Eagles on its home floor. When asked if he used last season's loss to Grace as motivation this time around, veteran CSAS coach Mark Dragoo said "about a hundred times."
"That sounds about right," Patriots guard Malik Dodds said. "They came in here and beat us on our home floor last year, and we didn't want that to happen again. We came out with a lot of intensity in the first half and did what we had to do. Our defense created our offense."
Grace Academy briefly assembled a rerun when a Stephen Record 3-pointer and a Clayton McMasters putback helped the Eagles stake a 7-4 lead. Then a slew of layups by Dodds and center Jackson Lenoir, who each wound up with 14 points, put the Patriots firmly in control.
Layups by Lenoir and Dodds in the final minute of the opening quarter gave the Patriots a 16-9 lead. An Alex Stallion steal and layup at the 6:28 mark of the second quarter produced their first double-digit lead at 22-11, and a three-point play by Lenoir with 4:28 before halftime made it 29-11 to cap the 25-4 run.
The Eagles pulled within 50-39 on a Nathan Rector 10-footer with 5:41 remaining in the game, but the Patriots answered with eight straight points.
"Our guards did really well handling the ball and pushing it down the floor," Lenoir said. "We were really motivated this year to win it, and I think we had all the tools to do it."
Said Dodds: "We're a lot better than we were last year. We know what we've got to do."
CSAS also won the girls' 5-A championship, downing Copper Basin 69-47 behind 25 points from Courtney McPherson and 22 from Robyn Anthony.
The 5-A consolation games were far more competitive, with Silverdale Baptist's boys rallying from an eight-point halftime deficit to top Tennessee Temple 58-55 and the Grace Academy girls rallying from seven down at halftime to defeat Silverdale Baptist 38-36. Grace won on a Winter Simpson layup with five seconds remaining.