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St. Edward nabs crown at Westminster
By Steve Nichols | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 11/24/2012 11:23 PM

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It was only fitting after St. Edward’s 51-39 win over Immaculate Conception in the championship game of Westminster Christian’s Thanksgiving boys basketball tournament that forward Adrian Ponce and guard DaVontae Elam were named to the all-tournament team.

Because the Knights never had answers to stop them Saturday night.

“We’re best friends,” Elam said of he and Ponce. “We just push each other. We’re really hard on each other. We’re both competitive and both want to win.”

Ponce had a similar stance with his teammates.

“My teammates were like, ‘you’re MVP, you’re MVP,’ ” Ponce said. “I’m just happy we got the win.”

Elam finished with a Green Wave-high 14 points off the bench with 4 rebounds and 3 steals. Ponce, the tournament MVP, scored just 5 points but had 10 rebounds and 5 steals that helped spearhead a defensive attack for the Green Wave, who forced 15 steals off 19 turnovers, outrebounded the Knights 30-22 and secured 9 offensive rebounds as 10 second-chance points and hustle put the Green Wave at 4-0 for the first time in coach P.J. White’s tenure.

“It means we’re off to a good start, obviously 4-0 means we’re starting to come together as a team,” White said. “That’s all we preach about is team. No individuals. It’s a team effort. That’s what we have this year as a team.”

Elam scored 9 of his 14 in the first half and St. Edward held a 2-point advantage at halftime. He’d open the second quarter with a steal and a layup and when St. Edward outscored the Knights (3-1) 17-9 in the third, a quarter in which IC coughed it up 5 times and Ponce did his damage.

Ponce put back his own miss to make it 21-15 Green Wave with 7 minutes left and with 1:52 left in the third, he’d follow up a miss by Danny Favela and convert the foul shot for a 3-point play to make it 32-21. Off the Knights’ timeout thereafter, Ponce stole the pass and scored to give St. Edward its largest lead of the night at 34-21.

“Adrian’s got to be a leader on the floor,” White said. “DaVontae is coming off football season. It’s taken him a while to get his basketball legs but he’s a strong kid and does a great job for us. You look for those two guys to help us out on the glass and score points and get steals and they’re doing all that.”

The Green Wave also mixed up defenses, going from a full-court press to a three-quarters press to a zone.

“We struggled with the zones,” IC coach T.J. Tyrell said. “Our shots weren’t falling from the perimeter and that allowed them to sag in and keep it tight and stop our penetration, which really hurt us in the long run.”

IC shot just 11 of 40 from the field and converted on just 1 of 11 from 3-point range. Demetrius Carr, who was named to the all-tournament team, led IC with 20 points and 4 rebounds. Clark Brinkman, also an all-tourney selection, poured in 11 points and grabbed 10 boards.