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McCluer North Hands Chaminade Its First Loss of the Season

The North Stars defeated the Red Devils 57-56 Saturday in the Class 5 quarterfinals at UMSL to move on to the final four.

McCluer North boys basketball coach Randy Reed called his team's 57-56 victory over Chaminade in the Class 5 quarterfinals Saturday  his greatest ever.

And that is saying a lot as Reed coached the North Stars to the 2006-07 Class 5 state championship.

"This is the biggest one ever and this was probably the biggest game in St. Louis history," Reed said.  "I have never seen so much hoopla and atmosphere."

A quarterfinal state game is the most pressure packed for a high school athlete as the winner moves to the final four in Columbia while the loser gets set to turn in its uniforms.

And this match-up had even more going for it with an undefeated team, Chaminade, and two of the top players not only in the area but in the country.

Chaminade's Bradley Beal and McCluer North's B.J. Young are both ranked among the top 25 players in the senior class nationally. And boy did they put on a show for an overflow crowd at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Beal, who will be playing next year at the University of Florida, scored 20 first half points. Young, who will be attending the University of Arkansas, scored 27 second half points.

But the game would come down to a missed free throw by Chaminade's Tevin Evans with eight seconds to play.

"I got us here and now I got us out of here," said Young, who was held to five points in the first half. "I realized that I had to be more aggressive in the second half. I was attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line. I had a good rhythm going."

Young has had some memorable games in his stellar high school career. But none will likely top this one.

"I haven't had one on a stage like this before," Young said. "This was overwhelming. But we are not done yet."

McCluer North will head to Columbia for the Class 5 final four. The North Stars will play the winner of Saturday night's quarterfinal game between Lee's Summit North-Liberty in the semifinals Friday at 3:20 p.m.

It appeared for much of the game that Chaminade would be the team headed to Columbia  and doing so with an undefeated record.

Beal was unstoppable in the first half as he hit four 3-pointers and had 20 points and his team had a 29-23 halftime advantage.

"I told my teammates at halftime that B.J. was going to try to take the game over in the second half," Beal said. "He basically won the game for them."

Young scored all 14 of his team's third quarter points. McCluer North still trailed by five points going into the fourth quarter. But Beal was sitting on the bench as he picked up his fourth foul in the final minute of the third quarter.

Beal sat out the first two minutes of the fourth quarter and McCluer North had the lead when he returned after a stuff by Young with 6:30 to play.

The two stars would combine for 21 points in a dramatic and memorable fourth quarter.

Beal hit all four of his free throws, including a pair with 24 seconds to play to tie the game 55-55.

Young was fouled with 15 seconds to play and made both of his free throws. Evans was then fouled with eight seconds to play. He made his first and missed the second. The rebound was batted towards halfcourt. Chaminade's Luke Bumgarner grabbed it but did not have a good look at the basket.

It was certainly a game which will be remembered by everyone who attended and will be watching Beal and Young as they continue their basketball careers.

"Bradley Beal is the greatest player I have seen in the area," Reed said. "He just does everything so well. B.J. has a different style but he is also a great player. He is just so explosive and hard to stop when he gets his hands on the ball."

It was a bitter end to the high school career for Beal, who lay on one side of the court while the McCluer North players and fans celebrated on the other.

"This is a really tough loss," Beal said. "We had not been in that situation before this year, trailing by two points and needing to score. I think we were just going too fast at the end. The game came down to the last few seconds and we didn't close it out."

Chaminade coach Kelvin Lee felt that Beal picking up his fourth foul late in the third quarter was a key.

"It's a no-brainer to take him out there," Lee said. "If he picks up his fifth foul the game is over. We have played against B.J. Young for eight quarters and the third quarter tonight was the first one where he took over. He stepped up and made some big plays and this is the first time all year in which we had some seniors not play like seniors. We just needed to calm down and play with composure. We were going too fast."

Beal finished the game with 30 points as he converted 11 of 19 of his field goal attempts, including four of eight from 3-point land. Evans added 11 for the Red Devils.

Young led all scorers with 32 points. He was 13 of 17 from the free throw line. He was the only North Star players to score in double figures.

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