Orchard Lake St. Mary’s secures rematch against U-D Jesuit to decide Catholic League title
Birmingham — Orchard Lake St. Mary’s coach George Porritt will be the first person to tell you that the Eaglets will go as far as their guards will allow them. If Wednesday night was any indicator, the sky is the limit.
Eaglets guards Jason Boswell, Jalon Bailey and LaMon Mathison each stepped up and rose to the occasion when called upon.
“We have to battle win. We’re nothing fancy. We have to scrap and play defense. And we have to hit our shots. They did that tonight,” Porritt said.
Hitting the biggest shot was LaMon Mathison with 18 seconds left to keep a resilient Birmingham Brother Rice squad at bay. The senior hit two free throws to increase St Mary’s lead 46-43, and ensured a return visit to Calihan Hall on Sunday against U-D Jesuit for the Catholic League A-B Division final.
“He was banged up too,” Porritt added. “LaMon is a defensive warrior, but I loved watching him knock down those shots to insure the win.”
St. Mary’s (10-8) started slow getting four baskets from four different players in the first quarter. But then Jason Boswell (18 points) took over.
“Coach tells us to work hard and good thing will happen,” Boswell said. “I started to see the lane open up, and I just went.”
The senior was in pure attack mode off the dribble scoring 11 points in the second quarter, including a big 3-pointer from the wing to help build a 10-4 run, lifting the Eaglets 26-22 lead at the half.
St. Mary’s sixth man Jalon Bailey followed suit in the third quarter rattling off two quick three pointers to help build a 35-24 lead. The Eaglets microwave notched nine points in the third quarter on his way to 15 points at the end of the night.
“Both Jason and Jalon have shown this effort in practice. They’ve gotten better and better, and we’ve needed them in this stretch,” Porritt said.
The steady constant for Brother Rice was forward Kevin Hayes who dominated the glass and the paint. The 6-foot-7 senior carried the Warriors (12-6) with 21 points.
“He’s super athletic, and he’s long. He’s an instant mismatch. He has an ability to get around guys, even smaller kids. He’s still a raw player because he never played before eighth grade, but he’s going to get better and better,” Brother Rice coach Ed Shaffer said.
“He’s been a real asset to this team.”
Senior guard Ryan Jordan was an asset as well helping the Warriors pull within three, 44-41 with 2:02 to play. Brother Rice also received a big defensive push from senior Brendan Smith and junior Varcelus Seaton off the bench that sparked Brother Rice’s offense late.
“Those are guys that don’t play that much,” Shaffer said. “They were quick and good off the ball. They really turned the tempo around for us. They fired everyone else up. That was the best part of the night, was seeing those two play so well defensively.”
Brother Rice will need to regroup before districts, which begins on March 9.
St. Mary’s will head to Callahan Hall where they have a rematch against U-D on Sunday at 3 p.m. for the league championship; a position Jason Boswell more than cherishes.
“We had to win five straight games to get in this tournament,” he said. “We embrace do-or-die situations. We like being the underdog, and having teams underestimate us. We’re ready.”