U-D Jesuit’s defense, balanced effort on offense helps lead Cubs past North Farmington for regional title
Southfield – Entering Wednesday night, Detroit U-D Jesuit coach Pat Donnelly had his concerns about facing the tough match-up zone defense of North Farmington that his team had to go up against in the regional final at Southfield.
But as it turned out, it was his team’s defense that proved to be the difference.
The Cubs used their stifling defense along with a balanced offensive attack, led by 17 points from star junior Cassius Winston to roll to a 52-34 win over North Farmington, earning U-D Jesuit a second straight regional title.
“What we stressed during halftime is what we did during most part of the first half and that was really to lock down defensively,” he said. “That’s a good team, they have some really good 3-point shooters and a lot of them and our big concern coming in was letting them get off. A couple of times, they hit two 3-pointers and two back-door layups, but we still only gave up 16 points and if we continue with that defensive effort, we’ll be in good shape.”
U-D Jesuit now advances to the Class A quarterfinals where it will face Clarkston, which beat Macomb Dakota 63-58 in its regional final on Wednesday night, on Tuesday at Calihan Hall at Detroit Mercy at 5:30 pm.
In the second quarter after the Cubs widened their lead to as large as 10, 16-6 after a 3-pointer from Ike Eke, North Farmington went on a run of its own, rattling off 10 of the next 12 points, capped off by an Anthony Qasawa 3-pointer to cut the deficit down to 18-16.
“The only thing I can say is how happy I am with my guys and how proud I am,” he said. “The way they represented our school and our community along with our program and themselves is unbelievable. They’re going to be missed by our school more than anybody for what they mean to it.”
But U-D Jesuit responded with a quick five points before halftime as an alley-oop from Winston to Gary Collins followed by a Obi Duru 3-pointer that gave the Cubs a 23-16 halftime lead.
Collins finished with 13 points to go along with Winston’s 15.
Then, the Cubs would stay hot as the second half opened as a Winston 3-pointer, followed by a Greg Eboigbodin dunk and another basket from Eke would balloon the U-D Jesuit lead to 30-16.
Winston said that offensively, playing against the always tough North Farmington defense, he and his teammates knew they had to stay on the attack on Wednesday night.
“We just had to keep attacking,” he said. “Stay in attack mode, most teams get stagnant and let them trap them and force them to get to areas they don’t want to be in. But we just knew we had to stay on the aggressive side.”
The U-D Jesuit would limit North Farmington to just five third quarter points as another basket from Eboigbodin would send the Cubs into the fourth quarter with a 13-point lead, 34-21.
In the fourth quarter, both teams exchanged baskets to start, but a 3-point play from Winston and another basket from Collins, followed by free throws down the stretch, helped secure a spot in the quarterfinal for U-D Jesuit.
In the quarterfinal against Clarkston on Tuesday at Calihan Hall, Winston and his teammates will be looking to advance to the Breslin Center for the second straight year as he is looking to make the most of another opportunity.
“It’s a second chance and a lot of people don’t get second chances,” he said. “I see this as my second opportunity to make it all the way.”