Nate Thomas and Guy DeBonaventura hit clutch shots to spark a 19-4 game-ending run as Saint Elizabeth upset defending-champion Smyrna 60-49 to win the 2018 DIAA Boys Basketball Championship.
Smyrna led by 5 points at halftime, and had pushed the lead to 43-36 with 2:06 to go in the third quarter after a three-pointer by Caleb Matthews and a free throw from Nalik Veasley-Johnson.
Thomas planted the first seeds of the upset in the final stretch of that frame, hitting a reverse layup off a feed from Ray Jones, and then hitting a three-point to bring the game to 43-41 going into the final quarter.
Jaymeir Garnett hit a pair of free throws for Smyrna at the 6:26 to get the lead back to four, but Thomas responded with a mid-range jumper, and then fed DeBonaventura for a three-pointer on the left wing that put the Vikings in front, a lead they would not relinquish, but it would be a while before they could breathe easy.
Caleb Matthews responded with a driving layup off a dish by Isaiah Wilson for the defending champs, but a second chance basket by Nasir brown brought the game to 50-47 with three minutes left.
Garnett and Thomas traded lay-ups, as the clock ticked under 90 seconds, but Smyrna could not hit the knotting three-pointer.
Following two free throws by Jordan Brown with 38 seconds to go, Smyrna missed a jumper, and Money hit another free throw to give Saint Elizabeth a 55-49 lead with 26 seconds left.
Saint Elizabeth picked up an offensive rebound on Money’s second free throw, but missed another free throw, keeping it a two-possession game.
Smyrna missed another three-pointer, and Jordan Brown pulled in the rebound, hitting a free throw to get the game 56-49, and things unraveled for Smyrna.
Following a foul, they received a second technical foul, resulting in an ejection, allowing Nasir Brown and Thomas to hit four more free throws and lock in the victory for Saint Elizabeth.
Saint Elizabeth became the first No. 9 seed to win the state championship since Seaford defeated Newark for the 1997 championship. They had to win five games in the tournament, with victories over Newark, St. Georges, Glasgow, and Caravel preceding Saturday’s triumph.
Jordan Brown led Saint Elizabeth with 17 points, while Money and Thomas stuffed their box sheets. Money had 14 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds, while Thomas contributed 11 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds. Saint Elizabeth had just 4 turnovers in the contest, against 15 assists.
Jaymeir Garnett and Caleb Matthews led Smyrna with 16 points each, with Garnett adding 4 assists. Smyrna was also efficient on the offensive end, with 16 assists against 9 turnovers, and shooting 46.4% from the floor, and 44% from three-point range, but they could not overcome Saint Elizabeth’s 51.2% effort.