DAYTON, Ohio -- To kick off Saturday's state semifinals, DeSales arrived at Dayton Arena in a Division II bout against hometown Chaminade Julienne and made it clear it'll be a full weekend stay.
Stallions senior star Des Watson led scoring duties with a game-high 21 points, but it was DeSales' second half defensive team effort that held the Eagles to 13 points and prevented any chance of a comeback threat.
After a competitive first half that saw Watson score 16 points towards a DeSales six-point lead, the third quarter brought a combination of aggressive Stallions team defense along with the Eagles' inability to connect on any shot attempts. Chaminade Julienne was held scoreless until the 1:50 mark while DeSales created significant separation towards a double-digit lead that they would comfortably hold.
As usual, Watson was a difference maker. In addition to his 21 points, Watson remained in attack mode and did a good job of getting to and scoring at the foul line, where he went seven-of-eight. The Davidson commit added six rebounds and a team-high four assists.
Fellow senior Obed Achirem continued his fantastic postseason play with a double-double, with a game-high 12 rebounds and 10 points. Achirem's all-around contributions were massive. The Eagles had no answer to Achirem's attack on the offensive glass, as his four offensive boards led to a couple momentous put backs. Defensively, he was a constant physical force and created multiple turnovers.
Junior Atticus Schuler had a strong all-around performance and scored all of his nine points in the second quarter. Senior lead guard Austin Mann had lockdown defense along with an efficient three assists, no turnovers and five points.
The Stallions defense, which held the Eagles to under 30% field goal shooting, was ultimately the key difference in what was perhaps DeSales' most complete and well-executed game of the season.
For Chaminade Julienne, offense was hard to come by excluding the tremendous performance from freshman Jonathan Powell. The six-foot-three wing guard scored 20 points, which included all of the Eagles five third-quarter points.
DeSales moves on to their first state championship appearance since 1987 when they defeated Dayton Jefferson 71-64.
The Stallions play on Sunday at 5:15pm against the winner of Lima Shawnee and St. Vincent-St. Mary for the Division II state championship.
The location of the Stallions' 1987 title? Dayton Arena.
Like 34 years ago, DeSales will look to return to Columbus as state champions.