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Detroit U-D Jesuit holds off Cass Tech for fourth straight Class A region title

By: Jeff Dullack, March 15, 2017, 11:39 pm

(PHOTO CREDIT – Dave Donoher)

Dearborn – Holding a one point halftime lead in Wednesday’s Class A regional final against Detroit Cass Tech, Detroit U-D Jesuit’s seniors came up in a big way late in the fourth quarter to help continue the Cubs’ quest to defend their Class A title.

Cass Tech would erase a 10-point third quarter deficit and take a lead early in the fourth quarter, but U-D Jesuit would retake the lead and with the help of seniors Greg Eboigbodin and Scott Nelson, the Cubs would pull away for a fourth consecutive regional title, 74-64.

With the win, U-D Jesuit (20-3) now advances back to the Class A quarterfinals where the Cubs will face Romulus on Tuesday at the University of Detroit Mercy at 5:00pm. Romulus won its regional final on Wednesday, 66-53 over Ann Arbor Pioneer.

Eboigbodin said that he felt his team’s effort coming out to start the second half was key and added that himself and other seniors felt the need to step up after being challenged by the U-D Jesuit coaching staff at halftime.

“I thought it was really important,” he said. “Coach told us (at halftime) at that we are 16 minutes from the next game and if we don’t win this game, we don’t go to the quarterfinals and they picked out the seniors and said we have to make a decision, we knew we had to come out and grinded really hard, and if we didn’t it would go the other way.”

After the Technicians took a 53-51 lead on a basket from Leonard Silas to start the fourth quarter, the Cubs would jump ahead 58-55 after a 3-pointer from sophomore point guard Julian Dozier. Dozier would later help push the lead back to eight before a 3-point play from Jalen Tobias cut the deficit down to 63-58.

Dozier scored all of his 10 points in the second half, after a difficult first half, where Cass Tech’s physical play seemed to impact him at times.

U-D Jesuit head coach Pat Donnelly said that while he’s noticed opposing team’s playing more physical against Dozier, he feels that his point guard has played well against that type of play.

“He made some plays that I wasn’t real pleased with, but he made some great plays too,” he said. “That’s been kind of a pattern the past few games, guys are trying to be real physical with him. I don’t know if they think that because he’s young, they can bully him a little bit, but he’s handled it pretty well. We talked to him a little bit about not reacting to it and just playing through it and I thought he did a pretty decent job with it.”

While U-D Jesuit seemed to have regained a comfortable lead after four straight points from Eboigbodin, the Technicians didn’t go away quietly.

Matt Richmond first knocked down a deep 3-pointer with 1:27 to cut the deficit back down to six and not long after, Richmond connected again from deep, making it 68-64 with less than a minute left to play.

“That’s not the first time he’s done that,” Cass Tech coach Steve Hall said of Richmond. “He’s a big time player, he’s a junior and he’ll be back next year and we’ll be back next year. We’re not going anywhere and this is the start of something big for us. This is just year two of our tenure as a coaching staff and they’re the defending state champions and we plan on being a major player in this thing.”

But the Cubs would again respond down the stretch, as Nelson would come up with a layup while drawing contact and after making the free throw, gave the Cubs a 72-64 lead with just 24 seconds left to play.

Nelson and Eboigbodin each finished with 18 points to lead the way for the Cubs, while Eboigbodin also tallied 19 rebounds.

U-D Jesuit came out of the halftime break with a 10-1 run to push its lead to 10, 46-36 as Zachary Winston buried his third 3-pointer of the day to start the second half to begin the run, and Eboigbodin recorded 4 points during the run.

Donnelly noted that he felt his team’s run to start the third quarter was key for his team, but added he would have liked to see his team be able to limit the turnovers that helped lead Cass Tech to retaking the lead early in the fourth quarter.

“I think it was real important that we came out and set the tone in the third quarter, by getting that lead,” he said. “Now I would have liked to have maintained the lead or even built on the lead, but they hit some big threes and some big shots. I think we allowed that a little bit by being a little careless with the basketball – we’ve got to clean that up – too many turnovers, I’m sure we had over 20 and too many missed free throws.”