Dayton, Ohio — Heading into the tournament with a 9-5 record, not a lot of people expected Chaminade Julienne to make it to the final four. A lot of things fell into place during the Eagles’ run. Carroll knocked off Dunbar, while others like Trotwood-Madison and McNicholas saw early exits as well. The Eagles’ 20 point comeback against Tippecanoe and 20 point victory over Bishop Watterson propelled them into UD Arena with a shot at a state title.
Seniors Dan Nauseef and A.J. Solomon have both been a big reason that the Eagles are in this position. Solomon is the son of Dayton Flyers associate head coach Anthony Solomon. So a trip down to UD Arena felt familiar for him. Nauseef has been the x-factor of this C-J team this year as the big man in the middle has been a problem for opponents all season long.
Along with the senior duo, freshman Jonathan Powell who is originally from Akron has been a surprising bright spot for the Eagles. Once he stepped in the starting lineup, he never looked back as the sharpshooter has been hot during the postseason. His 25 points against Alter gave the Eagles a sectional title and made their deep postseason dreams a reality.
St. Franics DeSales traveled all the way from Columbus to Dayton on Saturday morning. Davidson commit and star Des Watson has been the leader of this team this season. Watson will be playing in UD Arena for years to come as the Davidson Wildcats also play in the A10 along with Dayton.
C-J got off to cold start shooting the ball in the first quarter. Dan Nauseef also picked up two early fouls which forced C-J to sit him and play Josiah Bowman instead. Des Watson showed off his talent early on as he drove the ball with ease and also hit a three right before the buzzer to lead DeSales to a 13-7 first quarter lead.
Both Des Watson and C-J freshman Jonathan Powell began to heat up. Watson got an alley-oop but Powell would respond as he hit shot after shot to keep the Eagles in the game. C-J only trailed 24-21, but after an and-one from Atticus Schuler, the Stallions went into halftime with a 27-21 lead over C-J.
C-J immediately went down by eight in the third quarter. They had multiple chances to make a run but just couldn’t get shots to fall when they needed. With the lack of offensive production, DeSales was able to extend their lead to double digits behind Des Watson, Obed Achirem, and Atticus Schuler. The Stallions led 40-26 at the end of the third.
The fourth and final quarter was more of the same as C-J just couldn’t finish shots around the rim and their off shooting night wasn’t enough to keep up with DeSales. Chaminade Julienne scored 14 points in the second quarter and DeSales held them to just 13 points the entire second half as they switched to a man-to-man look after the Eagles shot well in their zone. DeSales ended up going on to win 51-34 and advance to the DII State Championship on Sunday.
Des Watson finished with a game-high 21 points as he couldn’t be stopped all day. 10 points from Obed Achirem and 9 points from Atticus Schuler also helped DeSales pull away in the victory. Jonathan Powell led C-J with 20 points off of four threes. The freshman made a statement on the biggest stage but it wasn’t enough as Nauseef only finished with 6 points. After sitting most of the first half due to foul trouble, the big man wasn’t able to find his rhythm and was contained by DeSales. C-J as a team only shot 25% from three and 29% from the field as they struggled shooting the ball and just couldn’t finish around the rim.
This loss ends C-J’s incredible postseason run as the no. 5 seeded Eagles exceeded expectations and made it all the way to the State Semifinal. Despite losing Dan Nauseef and A.J. Solomon, Chaminade Julienne will return a lot of youth next season as their bench was filled with juniors and sophomores.
DeSales will advance to the DII State Championship where they’ll face St. Vincent-St. Mary’s who had a dominant victory over Lima Shawnee. The Irish are led by Ohio State commit and one of the top talents in the state in Malaki Branham. Des Watson will need to play like he did today if the Stallions look to keep up with the talented Irish.