Detroit — Cassius Winston was on a mission Sunday afternoon at Calihan Hall, working hard to make U-D Jesuit the first to win four straight Catholic League championships in the A-B Division since Detroit Catholic Central in the early ’50s.
Winston, a 6-foot-1 senior point guard, scored seven in the opening 2½ minutes to help U-D start the game with a 9-0 run, using the momentum for a dominating 75-40 victory over Warren De La Salle.
“When I first came to U-D that was really my first goal that I wrote down, four Catholic League championships, and I just did it,” said Winston, who celebrated his 18th birthday with the win and 17 points. “They told us in the locker room to come out aggressively and I just took the opportunities that were available. There were a couple of good shots that I took that went in.”
Of course, Winston’s biggest goal before heading on to Michigan State this fall will be earning a Class A state championship after falling in the state semifinals the last two years.
“This is definitely a confidence booster,” Winston said. “That’s actually a really good team. They have a great coach and great players and we beat them handily, so we’re ready to go on that state championship run.”
Winston set the tempo with the early 9-0 run in a quarter where U-D (19-0) led 19-9, forcing nine turnovers. It led 38-20 at halftime.
Winston made a 3-pointer during the early run, then got his sophomore brother, Zachary, involved, as well.
It would be easy to say Zachary Winston had his coming-out party except he scored 19 on the same Calihan Hall floor in the first meeting against De La Salle (13-6), a 67-46 win Jan. 26. In the last game between the teams, U-D earned a 51-47 comeback win earlier this month.
Zach Winston scored 12 on Sunday, all on 3-pointers. He made his first long-range shot to open up a 12-3 lead, then made another in the opening quarter for a 19-9 cushion and his third of the first half for a 30-14 lead off a crosscourt pass from his brother.
“He shoots like seventy-five percent from the 3-point line right now so he’s made his mark as a shooter so whenever he gets out there he’s going to get us some threes,” Cassius Winston said. “Zach was 4-for-4 on threes, Elijah (Collins) had a good game, Greg (Eboigbodin) and Eke (Ikechukwu) got almost every rebound and Julian (Dozier) is probably next best point guard, so we all had a good game.”
Zach Winston enjoyed playing with his older brother.
“It’s amazing, such a wonderful experience, like a dream come true,” he said. “They (teammates) gave it to me and I just knocked them down.”
U-D coach Pat Donnelly said all four of the championships felt sweet, with the first one being big since it was the first in 20 years for the school and, of course, this one since no team had won four straight in more than 60 years.
“It’s kind of like putting icing on the cake,” Donnelly said. “These kids have worked so hard every year to come in and compete for this opportunity. I’m happy for all of them to be able to be a part of this. The last time, from what I understand, that a team won the A-B championship four years in a row was ’49-to-52 when Catholic Central did it, so it’s been a long time since that happened and all the credit goes to the kids.”
U-D senior guard Cedric Mutebi put on a strong defensive effort against De La Salle standout guard Kevin McKay (Central Michigan), especially in the first half when he was limited to three points, coming on free throws during the final three minutes.
McKay finished with 15 points, but made just two field goals.
U-D will play Detroit Public School League champion East English Village in the Operation Friendship game Thursday night at Wayne State.
Royal Oak Shrine 49, Waterford Lakes 38: Mike Niehaus scored 16 to help Shrine win its first Catholic League title since 1978 in the C-D Division championship, dethroning two-time defending champion Lakes.
Lakes (15-3) swept the regular-season series with Shrine, 58-48 and 48-46. The third meeting between the teams was tight with Shrine (12-6) leading 12-11 after one and 23-19 at halftime before using a 11-6 third-quarter to open up a 34-25 cushion.
Noah Robak and Isaac Oliver each scored 10 for Lakes.