St. Benedicts Wins Slam Dunk Title

LEWES, Del. -- St. Benedict's (NJ) grinded out a 49-48 victory on Monday night over Archbishop Spalding (MD) in the title game of the Slam Dunk to the Beach National Basketball Tournament.
Alex Galindo (eight points, 11 rebounds), a 6-5 junior swingman from Puerto Rico, earned the MVP honors for St. Benedict's, but he could very easily have been the goat for the Gray Bees.
With St. Benedict's holding on to a 49-47 lead, Galindo fouled Spalding guard Matt Latonick as he hoisted a three pointer with 7.1 seconds remaining.
Latonick, however, hit just one of three free throws, allowing the Gray Bees to stay in the lead at 49-48. Maryland bound Will Bowers tried to tip an offensive rebound home off Latonick's miss, and impressive 6-7 junior forward Rudy Gay missed a tap in as well.
The ball eventually went out of bounds, and it appeared to hit off St. Benedict's Galindo, but the referees signaled that the ball last touched a Spalding player and awarded possession to the Gray Bees.
Spalding quickly fouled St. Benedict's Artie Bowers (UMass) with 3.1 seconds left. Bowers missed the front end of a one and one, and all the Cavaliers could muster off the missed free throw was a cross court fling from Gay, which missed as the buzzer sounded.
Stanley Branch and J.R. Smith paced the Gray Bee attack with 13 points apiece.
Gay, one of the top players in the Class of 2004, led the Cavaliers with 20 points and nine rebounds.
St. Benedict's won the game despite shooting a paltry 31 percent from the floor. The Gray Bees' offense appeared lethargic at times, and they actually trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half.
But St. Benedict's climbed back into the game by crashing the glass hard in the second half. The Gray Bees outrebounded the Cavaliers, 24-16, grabbing 11 of those 24 on the offensive glass.
They needed all of those rebounds after shooting just three of 19 from beyond the three point arc in the game.
Ironically enough, Smith's three pointer (the Gray Bees' lone of the second half)pulled St. Benedict's into a 44-44 tie with Spalding with 7:36 to play in the fourth quarter.
The two teams struggled to score the rest of the way, and the last field goal of the game was a Branch dunk off a feed from Artie Bowers that gave the Gray Bees a 48-46 lead with 3:00 to play.
"I guess that's the sign of a good team, being able to win a game where you don't play your best," said St. Benedict's Head Coach Danny Hurley. "I thought we played much better last year against LeBron James' team, but we lost that game."
St. Benedict's improved to 8-0 this season and claimed its second major tournament championship. Earlier this month, the Gray Bees won the Great Florida Shootout in Kissimee.
The loss dropped Spalding to 8-2 on the season.