Ypsilanti — Detroit Catholic Central used its size advantage to cause problems for Wayne Memorial in the Division 1 regional semifinal between the teams Tuesday night at Ypsilanti Lincoln High School, moving on to Thursday night’s title game with an impressive 73-51 victory.
After 6-foot-7 Ben Downs connected on a 3-pointer to open the scoring, Catholic Central pounded the glass at the offensive end, getting three chances on its second possession and scoring on a putback by 6-5 Mike Harding, then having Jacob Woebkenberg score off a driving layup for a 7-0 lead after 6-7 Davis Lukomski rejected Wayne standout guard Isaiah Lewis’ layup attempt.
Yes, that is definitely setting the tempo.
Catholic Central used the momentum to run out to an 18-5 lead after one quarter, getting six offensive rebounds.
Catholic Central (17-6) — which will be going after its first regional championship since 2012 — has arguably the tallest starting lineup in the state at 6-8, 6-7, 6-7, 6-5 and 6-3.
“We have one of the tallest teams in the state consistently and I feel like that plays a big part of our offense,” said Lukomski, who scored a game-high 22 points by making 6-of-10 shots from the field and 10-of-12 from the line. “We like to get the ball inside and defensively it’s harder on teams who are tougher and quicker because they can’t penetrate and get in the lane because we use our length to our advantage.”
Downs contributed 15 points and nine rebounds for Catholic Central, which received 11 points and three blocks from 6-8 Justin Rukat, nine points from Woebkenberg and six points from 6-0 senior guard Keegan Koehler — both on 3-pointers — who also played well defensively while in the game guarding Lewis who finished with 10 points (4-of-17 shooting, 0-of-5 3-pointers).
So, what did Catholic Central do defensively against Lewis to keep him a dozen points under his average?
“With being a longer defender we have enough length to be able to sag off of him so his quickness doesn’t get by you and still have enough length to contest jump shots so I would say that was our biggest strength,” said Lukomski on slowing down Lewis.
Wayne (18-6) did cut the deficit to six (27-21) by forcing turnovers and scoring in transition with senior point guard Kenneth Bowie stripping Downs in full-court pressure and turning into a layup, then having Lewis’ steal lead to a layup by Dreyon O’Neal. Catholic Central answered with a 3-pointer by Koehler and a free throw by Rukat, who blocked a shot at the other end, for a 10-point halftime lead, 31-21.
Catholic Central gave itself some separation in the third quarter, opening a 20-point lead (46-26) Lukomski scored six during the stretch, scoring off a putback, making a pair of free throws and scoring inside for the 46-26 lead with 1:30 left in the third.
During that span, Catholic Central was getting to the 50-50 balls and playing great defense with Harding taking a charge on a Lewis’ drive and Koehler stripping O’Neal, who was going in for a layup, then finding Downs for a transition basket and 42-26 cushion.
Catholic Central shot 55 percent from the field while limiting Wayne to 36 percent shooting, 3-of-12 3-pointers.
Wayne’s starting backcourt combined for 8-of-30 shooting (2-of-12 3-pointers) with Bowie finishing with 14 points on 4-of-13 shooting.
More boys basketball
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Detroit King 60, Woodhaven 49: Jordan Whitford scored 15 for King (19-4). Josh Warren scored 17 and Marcus Brown 12 for Woodhaven (19-5).
Okemos 44, Coldwater 33: Evan Thomas scored 11 for Okemos (21-2). Gage McGuire scored 20 for Coldwater (17-6).
Harper Woods Chandler Park 61, Detroit Henry Ford 60, OT: Marquez Steel, who finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, sank two free throws with 2 seconds left in overtime to win it. Derrick Bryan had 17 points and six assists for Chandler Park (20-0). Devon Bryant led Detroit Henry Ford with 16 points.
New Haven 78, Goodrich 45: Ronald Jeffery had 24 points and five assists, Romeo Weems 15 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists, Malen Lewis had 12 points and 10 rebounds and Trenell Payne 10 points and four assists for New Haven (23-1). Goodrich is 18-6.
Detroit Loyola 60, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep 35: Dylan Hemphill scored 19, Javionne Thompson 12 and Chris Perry 12 for Loyola (16-8). Maurice Anderson scored 12 for Arbor Prep (15-8).
Detroit News staff contributed