Catholic League finals: U-D Jesuit makes it seven straight

By Dwjuan Frazier
Special to the Detroit News
U. of D Jesuit guard Caleb Hunter (2), left, dribbles against Detroit Catholic Central’s Brendan Downs (2) during the first quarter.

Detroit — U-D Jesuit put together a 13-2 run on Sunday at Calihan Hall to pull away from Detroit Catholic Central, 63-54, and make it seven straight victories in the Catholic League A-B championship.

U-D Jesuit jumped to an early 19-10 lead, but C.C. (13-4) was able to fight back by forcing turnovers and getting to the free-throw line, allowing it to trim Jesuit’s lead to one with 6:49 remaining in the second quarter. The second period featured solid defense and several unforced errors by both teams, as U-D Jesuit (17-2) went into halftime up 28-25.

Senior guard Julian Dozier had 12 of his 23 points in the first half and continued to slice his way through the C.C. zone before picking up his fourth foul.

“I was really trying to play a complete game,” Dozier said. “My teammates gave me the encouragement throughout this week in practice to get up shots and be confident, and that was key.”

C.C. outscored U-D Jesuit 17-14 in the third quarter with key contributions from Davis Lukomski (13 points), Justin Rukat (14 points) and Keegan Kohler (eight points). After several ties and lead changes, the score was knotted at 42 going into the fourth, giving C.C. hope that it might upset the defending champs, who, for the second consecutive season went undefeated in conference play.

U-D Jesuit surprisingly went on its run after Dozier was sidelined with 4:50 left. Senior Caleb Hunter converted an and-one, followed by another two-point basket off a C.C. turnover to give U-D Jesuit a 56-51 lead with 2:21 remaining. Jalen Thomas (11 points) and Daniel Friday (10 points) capped the run with a pair of free throws and a layup, respectively.

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"I knew I was going to be on the bench for a little bit," Dozier said, "but I knew my teammates would have my back. Daniel had a slow game but I knew he would pull through, and Jalen was playing great. I had faith and confidence in them." 

Despite the outcome, C.C. coach Brandon Sinawi lauded his team’s performance against the top team in the conference.

“We just didn’t make enough plays down the stretch,” he said. “We missed a couple of close buckets (and) we missed lot of free throws, which is unlike us.

"I’m proud of our team. We hadn’t played in this game in seven years, so I think we made a statement this season in the league, letting everybody know that things are changing with Catholic Central basketball. This is the game you want to play in. From the start of the season, the goal was to get here. We just couldn’t quite finish it.”

C-D championship game

Junior guard Anthony Massucci scored 21 and senior AJ Massucci added 11 to lift Royal Oak Shrine over Ann Arbor Greenhills, 41-28, in the Catholic League C-D championship game.

Greenhills (15-4) was led by freshman Finn Klein who had nine points.

This marked the third contest between the two this season, including a 65-51 Greenhills win in their previous matchup.

Dwjuan Frazier is a freelance writer.