They say defense wins championships.
St. Andrew’s put that phrase to use as the Saints were able to hold off Holly Springs 48-42 to claim the MHSAA Boys Class 3A State Championship at the Mississippi Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
It is St. Andrew’s first state title in school history.
The Saints held Holly Springs to just 34 percent shooting from the field (16-of-47).
“I told my team all year free throws and defense wins championship,” said ninth-year St. Andrew’s coach Brian Cronin. “Luckily we made our free throws down the stretch and played good defense to pull out the victory.”
It came down to the final minutes for the Saints.
With Holly Springs up 38-37, St. Andrew’s Fletcher Clark would hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:55 left in the fourth quarter to give the Saints the lead for good at 40-38.
Freshmen point guard Rashad Bolden would make seven of his last eight free throws, including six straight, in the final minute to help St. Andrew’s pull away.
Bolden finished the game with 15 points for the Saints (27-6).
“Earlier in the season we were playing at Crystal Springs I lost the game at the free throw line for us and today I wanted redemption to step up and make free throws,” Bolden said. “Everybody bought in this year on defense. Hold a team to 40 points or less we will win the game and we did. Its a blessing to win a state title my freshmen year.”
Senior forward Garrison Wade, who is getting looks from several Ivy League schools among others, who lead the Saints with 19 points along with 19 rebounds and was named the games Most Valuable Player.
Wade would score 17 points in the second half.
“This feeling is surreal. It takes some much work to get this point,” Wade said. “I just knew we weren’t losing. I didn’t play well in the first half, so in the second half I put my team on back and start doing what I had to do.”
Deveon Miller had 14 points to lead Holly Springs, while Cori Bell added nine points and Murray State signee DaQuan Smith had five points for Hawks (22-10).