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U-D Jesuit overcomes fourth quarter deficit, hangs on to beat Dakota, 69-61

By: Jeff Dullack, December 20, 2016, 9:30 pm

Detroit – With Detroit U-D Jesuit suffering its first loss since the 2014-2015 season in overtime against Flint Beecher over the weekend, the Cubs faced another challenge on Tuesday night, facing Macomb Dakota in a rematch of last year’s Class A semifinals.

After trailing by five entering the fourth quarter, the U-D Jesuit would retake the lead with less than five minutes left to play and pulled away for a 69-61 win at the Calihan Challenge at Detroit Mercy.

U-D head coach Pat Donnelly said that he’s looking for more consistency out of his team, but said that his team’s effort on the defensive end made a big difference for his team in the fourth quarter.

“This is something that we’ve been talking about with our team, but we’ve been playing in spurts,” he said. “We had a pretty good spurt at the end of the second quarter to take the lead and then we didn’t play with the effort and the urgency that we needed to in the third quarter, which allowed them to outscore us by 11 and that can’t happen. I think our effort picked up in the fourth quarter with our defense, we got some turnovers, got some conversions off those turnovers that got us the lead back.”

After Dakota’s lead would balloon to seven, 47-40, after a Jermaine Jackson Jr. basket, the Cubs would go on a 13-1 run, sparked by a Julian Dozier 3-pointer and a Scott Nelson basket would give U-D a 53-48 lead with less than five minutes left to play.

Nelson, who finished with a team-high 17 points in the win, said that he felt it was his team’s ability to force turnovers and capitalize on those turnovers was the difference down the stretch.

“I think our defense, our defense is what gets us going,” he said. “We got a couple of steals, got a couple of buckets and that brought our energy up. We’ve got to play 32 minutes like that, I think that’s what we’re struggling with, we get lazy sometimes, we lose energy and that’s what happens, we get down seven.”

Jackson, Dakota’s star point guard, would score four of Dakota’s next seven points as the Cougars trailed by just three points with three minutes left to play, but Dakota would lose Jackson due to a dislocated shoulder with just over 2:30 remaining in the game as U-D would pull away for an eight point win.

Dakota entered Tuesday’s game without forward Thomas Kithier (committed to Michigan State), due to a knee injury suffered in Friday’s win over New Haven.

Dakota head coach Paul Tocco said that he was pleased with his team’s play throughout the game, but the loss of Jackson was a tough loss for his team down the stretch.

“We played hard, down Thomas and then when Jermaine goes out of the game, it kind of deflates us,” he said. “I’m proud of everybody on the team, they played as hard as they could. There’s a reason we put together a schedule like this, because want to see where we’re at come March and we’re starting to find out where we’re at. Obviously, we’ve got to get healthy, we need JJ healthy and we’ve got to get Thomas healthy. If we get those guys healthy, I feel like we can play with anybody.”

Tocco later added that he expects Kithier to return to his team after the winter break.

With Dakota trailing 32-24 in the early stages of the third quarter, the Cougars would outscore U-D 21-8 through the remainder of the third quarter behind 10 points from senior Jack Ballantyne as Dakota led 45-40 heading into the fourth quarter.

Jackson led all scorers with 24 points on Tuesday night to lead Dakota, while Ballantyne added 17 as well in the loss.

Despite the win for U-D, Donnelly said that he was looking for his team to play with more energy as it looked to rebound from its first loss of the season over the weekend.

“I didn’t think it was great,” he said. “I thought we would come out with a little more energy, that was something that we were looking for coming out of Saturday’s loss, but it’s a team that we’re going to continue to work with. We’ve got the ability, but we’ve got to find it within ourselves to come out every night for 32 minutes and play with maximum effort.”