U-D’s defense stymies De La Salle, Cubs take command in the Central Division with 56-42 win
Warren – Junior point guard Cassius Winston might not pass the eye test, but when he steps on the floor, he’ll soon have your eyes in amazement.
Winston’s 31 points and five assists were more than enough to lead U-D Jesuit to a 56-42 victory over Warren De La Salle in a Catholic League Central Division game at De La Salle on Tuesday.
U-D (10-1), ranked No. 7 in Class A, is 4-0 and alone in first place in the Central. De La Salle (7-5) is 2-2 and in third.
Winston started the game with a few uncharacteristic turnovers, but soon settled down to lead his young team.
"We needed him to score," said U-D coach Pat Donnelly. "You can see that we didn’t hit too many perimeter jump shots without him. I told him after the first quarter that he had to be aggressive offensively, and start looking for your shot.
"He’s such an unselfish kid and wants to get everyone involved, but at some point we have to put some points on the board, and he did that for us."
Winston not only found his shot, but he got whatever shot he wanted as he took over the game in the third quarter. Winston hit a 3-pointer to open the third putting the Cubs ahead for good at 29-28. But he wasn’t done yet, following that three up with another one, to take a 31-26 lead with 4:44 left in the third. The Pilots then called timeout.
"They (U-D coaches) told me that it wasn’t a lot of offense flowing, and the zone was messing us up," Winston said. "So they put the pressure on me to be more aggressive and put the ball in the basket a little bit."
He scored 18 in the second half, putting the game away with another nine points in the fourth. De La Salle stuck around for as long as it could. But Winston hit two free throws to put the Cubs up 12. His point play with 6:28 left was the deal breaker as it gave U-D a 45-30 lead.
"Cassius is one of the most humble kids that I know," Donnelly said. "He always has a smile on his face, isn’t pretentious, not boastful, and is just unselfish by nature
"The other guys understand his capabilities too, so they cheer for him and celebrate when he has big nights. It’s a blessing to coach a kid with that type of ability, and it’s a blessing to play with a kid with that ability because he makes everyone around him better, and makes me look a whole lot smarter."
Defense was also the key to U-D’s win. The Cubs held De La Salle‘s top player, Kevin McKay, to just nine points, and held the Pilots four points in the third.
"Our coaches tell us to always play the game like you’re down ten," said Winston. "So we just played our game, played up-tempo, and got the pace going a little bit.
"We pride ourselves in locking down and playing defense, because if we can’t play defense, we can’t win games."
U-D is halfway through league play but Winston knows it won’t be easy to three-peat as league champs, having a target on their backs.
"We just have to stay humble," he said. "Our job is not finished yet, and we just have to keep on playing and keep on winning."