Loyola contains Cain, Bulldogs get past Cornerstone, 57-44
Detroit – All eyes were on Jamal Cain of Detroit Cornerstone on Tuesday, including those of Detroit Loyola sophomore Pierre Mitchell.
Mitchell and his teammates did more than watch Cain, a 6-7 forward considered one of the state’s top juniors. They covered him like a blanket limiting Cain to 13 points, none in the fourth quarter, as Loyola geared up for the Catholic League playoffs with a workmanlike 57-44 victory over Cornerstone in a nonleague game at Loyola.
The league playoffs begin Saturday with quarterfinal play.
Loyola (13-3), ranked No. 9 in Class C, scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter, the last three on Mitchell’s 3-pointer, to increase its lead to 47-37 and Cornerstone never recovered.
Cornerstone (9-7), a team that could be a factor in the Class C tournament, committed nine turnovers and attempted the same amount of shots (made three) in the final eight minutes.
“We had too many turnovers,” Cornerstone coach Derrick Edwards said. “That’s been our Achilles heel all season. It was their intensity. We couldn’t match their intensity. We tried to hit the home run. We tried to get it all back at once.”
Offensively Cornerstone sputtered. It shot 2-of-10 from the field in the first quarter and trailed 18-6. Loyola took its largest lead, 23-6, after a DeQuan Powell 3-pointer.
Suddenly Cornerstone found a rhythm and it was guard Juwan Robinson who came off the bench to provide a spark. Robinson scored all 10 of his points in the quarter and Loyola’s lead was just 30-24 at halftime.
A Mitchell basket gave the Bulldogs a 36-28 lead with 5:15 left in the third before Cain was finally able to get untracked. His two free throws and a basket cut the lead in half. He was fouled on his second dunk of the game and he converted the 3-ppoint play to bring his team within 38-35 with 2:12 left. Cain didn’t score again.
“We had to stay in front of him and make sure he didn’t get any good looks,” Mitchell said. “During the week coach (John Buscemi) told us we had to run. We just tried to take good shots play smart; play as a group.”
For the most part Loyola did just that. Buscemi had his team play a zone for much of the game to help clog up the middle. Loyola, with Mitchell manning the point, committed 13 turnovers, just one in the fourth.
Keith Johnson, a 6-2 sophomore, is Loyola’s tallest player and he was largely responsible for keeping Cain under wraps. Cain had 22 rebounds but just four came on the offensive end. He was 5-of-18 from the field.
The Bulldogs rebounded by committee. Five players had five or more rebounds, including Mitchell and Johnson, and Romari Evans led the way with six.
Powell scored 16 points, Mitchell had 15 and Jaylen Hill came off the bench to contribute nine points and five rebounds.
“The kids did a good job on Cain,” Buscemi said. “We felt we had to be physical. Our biggest concern was when they put up a shot and (Cain) going to the rim for the rebound. Keith did a good job of staying in front of him. Better than I thought.
“We won the battle of composure in the backcourt.”