OXFORD — The third time was the charm for St. Andrew’s.
After being swept in the regular season the Saints behind Rashad Bolden got past Region 6-3A for Velma Jackson 61-40 to claim the MHSAA Boys Class 3A State Championship at The Pavilion at Ole Miss on Saturday afternoon.
It is St. Andrew’s (29-6) second state title in the last three years.
“If we could make them play half-court basketball, we could have a chance,” said St. Andrew’s coach Brian Cronin. “Rashad has been a killer all postseason and I’m glad is on my team.”
Saints came out firing and never trailed the entire game.
St. Andrew’s had a 10-4 lead at the end of the first quarter and then was up 21-12 at halftime.
“I think we just did a good job of guarding them better,” Cronin said. “We wanted to keep them out of the paint and cut of the gaps. I wanted to shorten the game and limit their possessions.”
Defensively, the Saints held Velma Jackson to 30 percent shooting from the field (17-for-56) and just 3-for-17 from three-point range.
Another big key was Bolden, who finished with a game-high 25 points and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. Bolden did foul out with just over three minutes to go in the fourth quarter with St. Andrew’s up 51-40.
“This whole postseason we’ve been playing with a chip on our shoulder. We’ve been counted out all season. Last time we played Velma we were up three and I missed a free throw and we lost, so I wasn’t making the same mistake twice,” Bolden said. “I feel like I always got something to prove and I was nervous when I fouled out. The guys did a good job of getting rebounds and making free throws. We believed in each other and came away with another championship.”
The Saints ended the game on a 10-0 run to seal the game.
Noel Wiggs added 12 points for St. Andrew’s, while Jake Dowdell chipped in 10 points for the Saints.
St. Andrew’s finished the game 20-for-24 from the free throw line.
“We always teach defense and free throws win games,” Cronin said. “I told them that in the third quarter if we can make this a free throw game, we are going to take this thing home.”
Jordan Harvey had 12 points to lead Velma Jackson, while Josh Lee added 10 points for the Falcons (29-6).
“We just couldn’t buy a basket and never thought we’d play this bad offensively,” said Velma Jackson coach Christopher Love. “It’s hard to be a good team three times in one season and I told the guys that. We will learn from this going into next year.”