Emotions were running high for Chesterfield Township Austin Catholic on Friday night, and it had nothing to do with the boys basketball against Kimball Landmark Academy.
Mike Miller, the athletic director at Austin Catholic, was diagnosed with cancer last week. It was a diagnosis that sent shock waves through the small private school.
The student section donned purple shirts in honor of Miller, and the basketball team honored their AD with a stunning, inspired performance in it’s 50-46 win over Kimball.
It’s just the third win in two years for the second-year program that plays it’s home games at Endeavour Middle School in New Haven.
It couldn’t have come at a better time.
“We’ve never won a game here,” Austin Catholic coach Joe Plawecki said. “It was just a special night all around.”
The climb to get to this point had been a rigorous one for Plawecki’s group.
Landmark had crushed Austin Catholic (2-10) in early December, 61-23. The tiny school only played 12 varsity games this season because many of its opponents were JV schools from other Catholic League institutions. It lost some of those games badly, suffering 10 losses of 30 points or more.
There wasn’t any reason to think Austin Catholic could win another game this season. But on Tuesday night, Plawecki’s team took New Haven Merritt to the wire in a 55-50 loss. The coach said that experience was what aided his players down the stretch this time around.
“The experience of losing a close game helped us a lot because we had not been in those games, and that allowed us to handle the pressure tonight,” Plawecki said. “When your kids can get mercied and can come back and be coachable, that’s everything you could want as a coach,”
Austin Catholic jumped out to an early lead, something that Plawecki said took Kimball off-guard.
“We got up 10-6 on them and I think they were a little stunned,” Plawecki said. “They came back to take a 41-38 lead, and I wondered at that point what was going to happen.”
What happened was Benjamin Brown scored a career-high 22 points, including the winning basket in the final minute with the game knotted at 46.
Nick Zyble had a career-high 12, while Alex Kreft pitched in with 12 of his own.
It was a night Plawecki and his team won’t soon forget.
“We dedicated this to (Miller),” he said. “He was able to attend the second half of our game and it was incredible.”
More boys basketball
Bloomfield Hills 47, Southfield A&T 31: Dean Hysni had 13 points and Tyler Canfield 12 for Bloomfield Hills (5-14). Cameron McEvans scored 19 for A&T (1-15).
Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood 64, Novi Franklin Road 41: Clark Doman had 15 points and Torrell Williams 12 for Cranbrook (17-1). Blake Banks scored 19 and Blake Goodman 16 for Franklin Road (10-8).
Dearborn Heights Annapolis 58, Dearborn Heights Crestwood 50: Avery Ismail had 17 points and nine rebounds, and Dominick Riley had 15 points and seven rebounds for Annapolis (8-10). Crestwood is 5-13.
Detroit Cass Tech 68, Detroit Loyola 56: Tyson Acuff scored 17, Randy Gilbert 15 and Chris Murry 12 for Cass Tech (14-4). Cam Hudson had 18 for Loyola.
Detroit Cornerstone 70, Detroit CMA 43: Da’Mon Gilmore had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Isaiah Driver and Jalen Young each scored 17 for Cornerstone (11-5). CMA is 6-8.
Detroit Voyageur 65, Detroit Community 55: Lemuel Holt had 27 points and nine rebounds and Elijah Belle scored 18 for Voyageur (19-0). Rayvon Williamson had 25 for Community.
Hazel Park 65, West Bloomfield 63: Kyle Washington had 17 points, Carl Bowe 16, Devin Pettis 12 and Kharie Adams 10 for Hazel Park (16-1). Tre Harvey scored 19 and Donavan Moore 17 for West Bloomfield (11-7).
Novi 61, Canton 56: Tray Maddux scored 25 and Jio Miles 17 for Novi (12-7). Chase Meredith had 17 for Canton (17-1).
Oak Park 60, Birmingham Groves 38: Fred Gayland had 15 points, Maliq Carr 12 points and 18 rebounds, and Jeremiah Pettiway had 11 points for Oak Park (14-2). Groves is 8-10.
Okemos 64, East Lansing 56: Evan Thomas had 17 points, Jordan Henry 16, and Noah Pruitt and Gerald Sambaer each had 11 points for Okemos (15-4). East Lansing is 15-3.
Oxford 62, Troy Athens 57: Michael Raisch scored 17 and Jimmy Claudio, Trey Townsend and Nolan Harding had 13 each for Oxford (5-13, 3-9 OAA White). Jacob Brantley had 21 for Athens (14-4, 9-3).
Redford Thurston 49, Woodhaven 46: Karlos Berry had 14 points and Jamar Boyd 12 for Thurston (9-10). Bryon Wilkinson scored 18 and Marcus Brown 11 for Woodhaven (14-5).
River Rouge 48, Harper Woods 42: Legend Geeter had 11 points and eight rebounds, and Jayvien Torrence-Jackson had 10 points, five assists and six steals for River Rouge (17-1).
Taylor Kennedy 59, Taylor Truman 43: Terohn Mathis scored 13 and Justin Westley 11 for Kennedy (9-8, 7-6 Downriver). Trevor Thomas had 10 for Truman (1-18, 0-13).
Troy 87, Farmington 53: Danny Sully had 21 points, Jason Dietz 18 and Leon Ayers 16 for Troy (14-4). Ray Bryant scored 19 for Farmington (11-7).
Trenton 36, Taylor Kennedy 14: McKenna Tanguay scored nine points for Trenton (17-2, 15-1), which clinched its first Downriver League title since 1997. Kennedy falls to 1-19, 0-16.