SUMTER — Charles Smith and Sam Lake were not part of Cardinal Newman’s SCISA championship run in 2013.
Without the contributions of Smith and Lake on Wednesday at the Sumter County Civic Center, the Cardinals would be out of the hunt for this season’s title.
Smith, a senior transfer from Keenan, scored 16 points, and Lake, a senior transfer from Blythewood, tallied 15 in a 48-40 quarterfinal win over Midlands rival Heathwood Hall.
Cardinal Newman (18-9) will face Porter-Gaud or Laurence Manning in the semifinals on Friday at 5 p.m.
Smith tallied eight points in the fourth quarter, including a 6-for-7 showing at the free-throw line. Lake triggered a decisive 15-0 Cardinal Newman surge with a 3-pointer from the left wing at the 4:20 mark of the final frame, eight seconds after Trenton Flemming staked the Highlanders to their final lead, 33-31, with a 3-pointer.
Lake had a season-high point total and matched his single-game high of three 3-pointers.
“Coach has told me to shoot it if I have the shot, and that allows me to feel comfortable to put it up when I’m open,” Lake said.
The game was a mirror image of the two regular season games between the teams. Cardinal Newman was a winner at the buzzer in the first outing, while Heathwood Hall broke open another tight struggle with a late run in the rematch.
“Most of our game are the grind-it-out kind,” Cardinals coach David Ross said. “We’re OK offensively, but we’re not going to score 70 points on a regular basis, so we have to win with our defense. For the first time in a couple of weeks, we put together a good, solid effort through four quarters.”
Cardinal Newman jumped to an early 9-2 lead as Lake swished two 3-pointers in the opening four minutes. The Highlanders, however, closed the gap to 10-8 by the end of the first quarter with the help of two late 3-pointers by Ryan Ellis, who rang up a game-high 19 points.
It was a back-and-forth affair until the Cardinals landed the knockout blow with time waning.
“Ryan’s killed us this season, and we went to a triangle-and-two defense in the second half and helped keep the ball out of his hands so much,” Ross said.
Ellis managed five points in the second half.
“(CN) went on that run and did a good job of switching up defenses on us,” Heathwood Hall coach Jeff Whalen said. “We didn’t react well – turned the ball over and took some bad shots – but give them credit because they played it very well.”
The Highlanders finish the season 14-11.
HH: Ellen 2, Ellis 19, Flemming 7, Vaughn 2, Ruble 4, Curtin 6. CN: Lake 15, Halfacre 2, Parker 6, Smith 16, Armstrong 9.