Bloomfield Hills — Warren De La Salle senior Justin Fischer has experienced some ups and downs during his career with rival Detroit Catholic Central and closed the series out with a big smile following a 62-59 Catholic League semifinal win Wednesday night at Marian High School.
Fischer, a 6-foot-3 guard, scored 20, making four straight free throws during the final minute, then getting a steal to make sure De La Salle (13-5) would face five-time defending champion U-D Jesuit (16-3) in Sunday’s 3 p.m. championship game at University of Detroit’s Calihan Hall.
Fischer broke his ankle early in his sophomore year against Catholic Central, sidelining him for the remainder of the season.
On Jan. 30, Fischer’s layup in the final seconds was the difference in a 59-58 win at Catholic Central.
“This was a big team win,” Fischer said. “We all played together the whole game and I believed in my teammates and they believed in me. I had been struggling from the line so it felt great to make those free throws.
“We’re really excited because we want one more chance at U-of-D to win that thing (Catholic League title) finally.”
De La Salle lost to U-D Jesuit in the Catholic League championship game the last two years, also losing twice this season, including 59-57 earlier this month.
De La Salle swept the three-game series with Catholic Central (11-6), but needed Jordan Winowiecki’s 3-pointer with 1:12 left for a 58-55 lead, ending a scoring drought of 5 minutes, 3 seconds. Winowiecki finished with 14 points, making 6-of-10 shots from the field.
It looked like De La Salle was in control after scoring a pair of baskets off of steals during the final 10 seconds of the third quarter to open up its largest lead (53-44).
But, junior Davis Lukomski scored six during an 11-2 run to pull Catholic Central even at 55 with 1:37 left.
Lukomski had 14 points. Justin Rukat, a 6-6 junior, scored 15 and senior guard A.J. Abdelnour, 13.
De La Salle coach Greg Esler had the same game plan as the previous two games, putting on fullcourt pressure with the expectation of forcing turnovers. After all, Catholic Central turned the ball over 21 times the last time the teams played at Catholic Central.
“We thought their guards were not going to handle our pressure,” Esler said. “They had 21 turnovers the last time we played them at their building and they turned the ball over big time at our place. Our press tonight was not effective. They did a great job of handling the ball. They kept using the inbounder, and they kept bringing guys through the middle.”
“We lost our composure for a little bit, but when it came down the stretch Winowiecki hit that big 3. Fischer was fabulous all game long, made those free throws down the stretch. Now, we’re excited to be playing on Sunday and we have to break that streak.”
Catholic League C-D semifinal
Madison Heights Bishop Foley 62, Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard 46: Bishop Foley entered the Catholic League playoffs as the No. 8 seed with a 5-11 record, then upset top-seeded Marine City Cardinal Mooney before a victory over Gabriel Richard.
Junior guard Sam Siepker scored 25 for Bishop Foley, making four 3-pointers, and sophomore guard Jack Decker had 17 points. Bishop Foley will play Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook (16-1) in the C-D championship game Sunday at 1 at Calihan Hall.