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Royal Oak Shrine tops Our Lady of the Lakes for first C-D title since 1978

By: Jeff Dullack, February 28, 2016, 3:46 pm

Detroit – Going into this season with the goal of winning its first Catholic League title since 1978, Royal Oak Shrine knew that in order to achieve that goal, it would have to knock off the defending Catholic League champions, Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes.

After falling to Lakes twice earlier this season, including a two-point loss two weeks ago, Shrine knew that its defense would be the key when the two teams met for a third time on Sunday afternoon at Calihan Hall.

After allowing 13 first quarter points, the Shrine defense buckled down, holding Lakes to just 14 points total in the second and third quarters as the Knights would earn a 49-38 win for their first Catholic League C-D title since 1978.

Shrine coach Jim Skaggs said that the key to his team’s defense on Sunday was its effort and limiting the number of open looks Lakes had.

“I just think that we were out working them and our intensity,” he said. “We just flat out wanted it more, we didn’t give up many open looks, (Noah) Robak had a couple of open 3-pointers, but other than that, they didn’t have any open looks.”

The only source of offense Lakes would find in the third quarter would come from freshman Noah Robak, who knocked down two 3-pointers with just under four minutes to play that would cut the Shrine lead down to 30-27.

Shrine would manage to push its lead back to eight points by the end of the third quarter after a 3-pointer from A.J. Massucci would make it 35-27 heading into the fourth quarter.

Early in the fourth quarter, Shrine would take a 10-point lead after a basket from Michael Neihaus give the Knights a comfortable 37-27 lead.

Niehaus would lead all scorers with 16 points on the afternoon.

Niehaus credited his team’s defense for leading the way to the win on Sunday.

“I scored the points, but our team scored all-around,” he said. “Rebounding was big and we won with defense, I said at the beginning of the year that we were going to win the league with defense and they (Lakes) only scored 38 points and that’s what won us the game.”

Shrine would seal its Catholic League title win behind a late basket from Ethan Groth and free throws down the stretch from Jeremy Reece. 

“It was our goal at the beginning of the year to win a Catholic League Championship and we knew we had to go through Lakes,” said Skaggs. “We lost by two to them at their place and we feel like we should have won and we let that one slip away. We’ve been mentally focused on that (winning a Catholic League title) the whole year.”