The Eagles hosted the Scots in the semifinals, a position they had lost in last season versus Santa Fe Catholic 48-41. Just like years past, things weren’t going to get much easier.
This St. Andrews team was far more loaded and experienced. Headlined by Memphis signee Josh Minott, who’s averaging 22.5 points and 8.4 rebounds this season, the path to victory for Cilk McSweeney’s group was far heftier than it was before. They’d have to fight until the time expired.
“We knew they wanted to get out in transition and score,” McSweeney told 305 Sports, shortly after knocking down the reigning 3A state champions. “We tried to do our best to limit those points.”
Calvary entered the locker room at halftime with a two-point lead, and a confident atmosphere surrounding players and coaches. They knew that wasn’t their best brand of basketball, and coming out, they showed exactly that.
They had outscored St. Andrew’s 37-18 in the second and third quarter combined, garnering them into a comfortable lead heading into a crucial final eight minutes. The senior triad of Minott, Devin Hinds and Anquan Boldin Jr. answered well, cutting the Scots’ deficit to just six with 1:01 left.
A Minott three-pointer made it a three-point game with 18.4 remaining, but free-throws eventually sealed the deal for the Eagles, who have now opened the gates to heading into the Final Four.
“As things started getting a little out of hand, we just had to stay focused and lock in mentally,” Allen said, “by getting stops and taking care of the ball on the offensive end and mainly our free throws.
“We knew we had to come to play. They are a great team and they play hard, so we just locked in early and made sure we were focused going into the game.”
The job had been done for that Eagles, and it wasn’t any sort of luck. A difficult stretch of games through the season, including contests versus nationally ranked teams, put them in the position they’re now in.
“It’s win or go home,” McSweeney said. “We are prepared for this, we have the toughest schedule in the state outside of Montverde Academy. We are ready to play whoever, and for someone to beat us is going to be tough.”
Next up for Calvary will be the same Hawks team that knocked them out of postseason contention last year. Although the name or record isn’t as credible as St. Andrew’s, they surely aren’t a program to take lightly.
That said, that do or die mentality remains for the Eagles.
“At this point everyone can be beat,” McSweeney said. “We have to lock in every practice, film session and game and secure the win.”