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Chaminade Falls in Pattonville Tournament Final

McCluer runs away with championship after an early lead.

The basketball team has taken its practice sessions to a new level.

For 90 minutes or so, the Comets tear into each other with game-like tenacity.

"We really get after it," coach Erwin Claggett said. "It's pretty intense."

That workout regimen paid big dividends Friday, at the expense of Chaminade.

McCluer turned in a near-perfect effort in blowing past the Red Devils 74-36 Friday in the championship game of the Pattonville Invitational Tournament at .

The Comets (3-0) won three successive tournament games by a total of 99 points in capturing the five-day, eight-team affair.

The trio of blowouts served notice that McCluer is a legitimate state title contender.

"We have shooters, rebounders and we can put it all together," senior guard Tyrone Griffin Jr. said. "I think we're a top team."

So do the Red Devils (2-1), who fell behind 12-0 and never recovered.

Claggett, a former standout guard at St. Louis University, credits the early season success to his team's practice habits. His squad is so deep that the second string players are able to give the starters a legitimate challenge.

"We've got guys that if they play with other teams, they might average 25 or 30 points," Claggett said. "We've got guys on the bench that never play a lot that could start on other schools.

Claggett is not kidding. His roster sports nine seniors, all capable of getting the job done.

"These kids know about sacrificing and making a commitment," Claggett said. "They have really bought into playing with each other."

It shows.

Senior forward Leon Watkins Jr. led a balanced attack against Chaminade with 17 points. Griffin Jr. chipped in with 16 points and seven assists. Senior guard Demetrious Floyd added 14 points. Chantel Stanciel and Malik Ray also came up with big plays in the early going. Junior Shacquille Edwards performed well off the bench.

McCluer rolled out to early leads of 12-0, 15-2 and 24-6, thanks in part to Griffin Jr., who drilled a trio of 3-pointers in the first 1:48.

The early blitz caught the Red Devils by surprise, according to junior forward Jack Hummel, who finished with 10 points.

"We tried to run with them," Hummel said. "Then, we made some silly passes and some silly mistakes."

The Comets kept the pressure on over the first 16 minutes and led 41-12 late in the second quarter before Chaminade made a move.

The Red Devils reeled off 14 unanswered points at the end of the first half and the start of the second to climb to within 41-26.

Griffin Jr. and company promptly went on a 17-3 run to put the game away.

"I was pleased with how hard we played," Claggett said. "They showed they wanted this."

The contest was decided in the first 3:12 when the Comets zipped out to a 15-2 lead. Griffin Jr. got the ball rolling with a 3-pointer, and Floyd scored on a driving layup in the first 32 seconds. Griffin followed with two more 3-pointers, and Floyd hit one of two foul shots to push the advantage to 12-0.

Hummel got the Red Devils on the board with a pair of free throws, but Floyd answered with a conventional 3-point play that pumped the margin to 15-2.

McCluer closed the quarter on a 9-0 blitz during the final 3:09. Stanciel and Edwards hit key basket to trigger the run.

Chaminade climbed back behind Hummel and Damon Patterson, who led the way with 13 points. Marcellus Miller and Andy Kleinlein cut the deficit to 41-26 early in the third period with back-to-back 3-pointers.

Griffin then took charge with a pair of layups and two steals in a span of 79 seconds. A short jumper from Edwards put the Comets back in control 48-28.

in the quarterfinal round. All-state standout Bradley Beal, who plays at the University of Florida, is sorely missed.

McCluer will play host to Jennings on Thursday. Chaminade takes on St. Francis Borgia on Dec. 12.

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