Detroit — Cassius Winston and U-D Jesuit wanted something Detroit Western owns, the title of state champion.
Winston and U-D took a step closer Wednesday evening, defeating Western, 47-39, in the Class A regional final at Renaissance.
Winston, a Mr. Basketball finalist headed for Michigan State, was in attack mode from the opening tip and so were his teammates, constantly attacking the basket and making it tough for Western at the other end with 6-foot-9 post players Greg Eboigbodin and Ike Eke blocking shots and altering others.
It didn’t help that Western (19-4) had trouble with its perimeter shooting, making just 4-of-21 3-point tries.
In fact, it was Eboigbodin and Eke who showed flashes of their improved offensive play early on with Eboigbodin scoring off a baseline move and then a driving layup, and Eke grabbing a rebound and filling the lane for a transition basket in the game’s first four minutes.
“My teammates were pushing me like, ‘You’ve got to be physical,’ so I tried to give us momentum to keep fighting, keep fighting,” Eboigbodin said.
U-D (25-0) — which will play in Tuesday’s quarterfinal at Calihan Hall against the winner between Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor Pioneer — opened up a 22-11 cushion following consecutive 3-pointers by freshman Julian Dozier and Winston with 4:30 left in the half.
Still, the most important run of the game for U-D came when junior guard Scott Nelson came off the bench and made a 3-pointer to start an 8-0 run for a 34-26 lead late in the third quarter after Western had pulled even.
Western cut the deficit to 39-37 on a driving layup by senior point guard Brailen Neely with 3:33 left, but that would be as close as it would get with U-D — in the bonus — making 7 of 8 free throws down the stretch, four from Winston.
“They’re a great team,” Winston said of Western, which defeated U-D, 55-46, in the state semifinals last year at the Breslin Center.
“We pride ourselves on playing defense. We knew they were a 3-point-shooting team so in our pre-game we said we were going to take them away from the 3-point line and send them to the big men.”
Winston scored 20, making 6 of 12 shots from the field and all six free throws. Eboigbodin had four points, 10 rebounds and several blocks, and guards Dozier and Elijah Collins each scored seven.
Neely, the Mr. PSL award winner, had a solid game for Western, penetrating and finding open teammates, but they failed to take advantage, turning the ball over or missing open shots from the perimeter or contested shots inside.
“We knew this was going to be a hard game shooting the ball,” Western coach Derrick McDowell said. “Our No. 1 goal was to play with the lead and we didn’t get the lead, and early in the first half I felt we rushed (shots). You can’t spot Winston an 11-point lead and then you got them two big guys sitting in the paint.
“He (Eboigbodin) changed stuff. He gave up nothing down there and just sat in the lane, and we didn’t shoot the ball well so we never brought them out.”
Eboigbodin blocked Josh Long’s inside shot with six minutes left and Western trailing 38-33, then stripped the ball from Long on the next possession.
Western, trailing 43-37 with two minutes left, turned the ball over twice and missed four 3-point tries the rest of the way.
Neely scored 14, making 5 of 15 shots, just 2-of-8 threes, and Long finished with nine points and eight rebounds.
Western guard Armani Tinsley was limited to two points after scoring 18 (four 3-pointers) in last week’s district semifinal win over PSL champion East English. He made just 1 of 10 shots.
More Class A
Macomb Dakota 74, Rochester Adams 68: Thomas Kithier had 21 points, Trevon Webster had 15, Jermaine Jackson Jr. had 14 and Steven Marshall had 13 points and 13 assists for Dakota (25-0). Spencer Littleson and Joey Ziniti scored 22 each for Adams (18-6).
Ypsilanti 60, Ann Arbor Pioneer 43: Mr. Basketball finalist Corey Allen had 21 points and 10 rebounds and Mike Bruce scored 17 for Ypsilanti (22-1).
Detroit Henry Ford 77, Detroit Osborn 59: James Towns had 17 points, Kavon Bey had 16 points and 12 rebounds and Devontaye Webb scored 15 for Henry Ford (16-7). Kenneth Halloway scored 12 for Osborn (14-5).
New Haven 53, Lake Fenton 50: Eric Williams Jr. had 26 points and Romeo Weems 10 points and 10 rebounds for New Haven (22-2). Jalen Miller scored 19 and Isaac Golson 13 for Lake Fenton (21-4).
Detroit Loyola 54, Riverview Richard 39: P.J. Mitchell, DeQuan Powell and Keith Johnson each scored 10 for Loyola (20-5). Josh Blaszak scored 17 for Richard (19-5).
Flint Beecher 78, Southfield Christian 65: Beecher improved to 22.2. Marlo Brown scored 14 for Southfield Christian (21-3).
News staff contributed