U-D Jesuit continues Catholic League hoops dominance
Detroit — U-D Jesuit continued its domination of Warren De La Salle on Sunday afternoon at Calihan Hall with a 64-55 win in the Catholic League championship game to earn its sixth straight league title.
This was the third straight year the teams played in the title game at Calihan Hall. U-D Jesuit (16-3) also defeated De La Salle (13-6) in the two regular-season meetings.
And, U-D Jesuit had to battle back from a 46-40 fourth-quarter deficit to get the job done, too.
Senior guard Zachary Winston, younger brother of Michigan State point guard Cassius Winston, picked up his game during the fourth quarter, scoring 10 of his 17 points to lead the comeback.
“This feels amazing, to say the least,” Winston said. “We didn’t play that well in the first half and Coach (Pat Donnelly) kind of got into us, and we were like, ‘We’ve got to get it done,’ and so how we came out in the second half was incredible.
“Really, the most important thing that we did was talk and we just had each other’s back, especially during that fourth quarter and that just led to more steals, more fast breaks and more open shots.”
It was as if De La Salle was wondering if it could pull out the win over its big rival, while U-D Jesuit knew that it could come back because it had done it before.
U-D Jesuit led 15-13 after one, De La Salle held a 27-25 halftime lead, and the game had eight lead changes during the third quarter with De La Salle holding a 43-40 lead entering the final eight minutes.
De La Salle senior Jordan Winowiecki made a 3-pointer to start the fourth for a 46-40 cushion before committing his fourth foul seconds later. He fouled out with a team-high 15 points with 3:42 left and U-D Jesuit holding a 53-50 lead.
“It was a hard-fought game,” Donnelly said. “I thought De La Salle came in and did a phenomenal job. They were very well prepared, really was taking it to us for most of that game. I think our energy level wasn’t where it was needed to be, and then finally we got a couple of steals and some breakaways and that kind of gave us some energy that we were able to finish off the fourth quarter.
“I’m really proud of these guys to come back. At the beginning of the year a lot of people counted us out and didn’t think we’d have this opportunity, and the fact that this group came together and was able to accomplish this, go undefeated in the regular season and win the championship, I couldn’t be more proud of this group.
“Zach (Winston) had a rough first half (0-for-5 from 3s). He got blistered a little bit at halftime. I thought he was playing very un-characteristically. He missed shots, and I thought that affected his defensive effort and decision-making. He came out in the second half and played very, very well and that was huge for us.”
U-D Jesuit took the lead when Winston knocked down a 3-pointer from the left corner with 4:05 left to break a 50-50 tie.
U-D Jesuit 6-foot-10 junior Jalen Thomas (13 points, five rebounds) also played well during the comeback. Junior Daniel Friday had 15 points and eight rebounds, and senior guard Elijah Collins scored six and played well defensively.
De La Salle held a 48-42 lead before James Moss’ 3-pointer started a 15-3 run to give U-D Jesuit a 57-51 cushion with under a minute remaining.
Thomas made a steal that led to a three-point play by Winston in transition to pull U-D Jesuit even at 48.
Luke Pfromm’s basket gave De La Salle a 50-48 lead with 5:38 left, but it was his team’s lone basket until Kole Gjonaj scored inside with 38 seconds left.
De La Salle had three turnovers and missed two lay-ups during the five-minute stretch.
“I thought we missed some key shots,” De La Salle coach Greg Esler said. “We were coming up one out of two at the line, turned the ball over twice and then we had two foul line violations which didn’t help us.
“There’s a reason why they’ve won six times. They have good players and they have a very good coach. We did everything we wanted. We had the tempo. We had the score where we wanted. We just didn’t get the final score that we wanted.”
Senior guard Justin Fischer scored 14 for De La Salle and Pfromm scored 12.
■ Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood 52, Madison Heights Bishop Foley 36: Junior point guard Torrell Williams scored 14 to lead Cranbrook (18-1) to the C-D championship.
Junior guard Sam Siepker scored 14 for Bishop Foley (7-12) which entered the tournament as the No. 8 seed with a 5-11 record.