Coach Pete McBride said Eminence got to the Class 1 Final Four by playing as a team. So it was only fitting that the Redwings had multiple players come up big in Columbia.
Whether it was Jesse Lacey’s clutch 3-pointer that helped beat Drexel in the semifinals, or Hunter Adams’ big performance against Stanberry in the finals, the Redwings won the first title in program history behind a true team effort.
“We’ve been pretty balanced,” McBride said. “All season, it seems like it’s been a different guy every night for us.”
Drexel came to Columbia with a 29-1 overall record. But Lacey’s trey with five seconds remaining lifted the Redwings to the 65-64 upset.
"I knew we had to get one up, and that's all you can do," Lacey said.
Lacey finished with a game-high 22 points while Logan Dyer scored 19. Drexel focused much of its defensive attention on
Eminence’s leading average scorer Cole Keeling, who was held to six points on 2-for-11 shooting.
“When you get to state, a lot of teams will focus on trying to shut down your star but we still had other guys step up,” McBride said.
Two nights later, it was Adams’ turn. He scored just five points against Drexel but led all players with 24 points as the Redwings edged Stanberry 62-60. Dyer added 16 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
"I didn't figure I'd be the one to lead the team in scoring," Adams said. "I just got the open lanes and took it in."
Leading 62-59 with less than 10 seconds remaining, Eminence tried to foul to prevent Stanberry from attempting a game-tying 3-pointer. However, officials called an intentional foul on Eminence’s Aljun Danding, giving Stanberry to free throws and possession.
The Bulldogs made one of two at the line, then tried a potential game-winning 3-pointer. Keeling swatted the attempt as time expired.
"We didn't wanna give up a layup, but we sure weren't going to give up an open 3," McBride said. "We weren't going to lose the game on a shot that wasn't defended."