Central Division basketball gauntlet nearing an end; CC wrestlers win 27th in a row

More than 900 spectators jammed the Brother Rice gym to the rafters for the Feb. 1 game between the Warriors and St. Mary’s Prep, won by Rice on a 14-2 run in the last four minutes, 62-50. Attendance has been at or near capacity on most nights for the Central Division contests featuring five of the top 10 teams in the state. Said one fan: “This is the best $5 you could spend. High school sports are way better than the college or pros.” (Photo by Don Horkey | Special to Detroit Catholic)

ORCHARD LAKE — Finally, we come to the finish line of the nightmarish maze that is the Catholic League’s Central Division.

University of Detroit Jesuit, which sits precariously atop the division with a 4-2 record, can claim the title outright by winning its remaining games at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s on Tuesday, Feb. 8, and on home floor against Novi Detroit Catholic Central on Friday, Feb. 11.

St. Mary’s, a half-step behind the Cubs with a 4-3 record, could assure itself of at least a share of the division title by beating U of D Jesuit — or win it all if the Cubs lose both of their games.

Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (3-3) could wind up at 5-3 by disposing of Catholic Central (2-4) on Tuesday and Warren De La Salle (3-4) on Friday.

There is a convoluted scenario where one team could manage a 5-3 record and the other four teams knotted at 4-4.

Let’s not go there, but keep it on the floor where this mayhem originated.

Cases in point from a week ago: St. Mary’s and Brother Rice battled to a 48-48 tie with 4:14 remaining on the clock in front of 900-plus spectators packed to the rafters in the Warriors gym.

Rice stepped up its offense — led by Xavier Thomas’ 8 points and 5 from Johnathan Blackwell — while the Eaglets lost their composure with poor shooting selections and a half-dozen costly turnovers for a 62-50 final score.

Meanwhile, De La Salle won big by 22 points, 73-51, over Catholic Central and followed that up with a 20-point, 61-41, loss to U of D Jesuit.

And St. Mary’s trampled the Shamrocks, 81-64, for CC’s third loss in a row.

Asked for an explanation of the ups and downs, the highs and lows from game to game, week to week, Rice coach Rick Palmer said, “Hey, these are 14-,17-year-old kids.”

The excitement won’t let up after this week. The ultimate prize is the Catholic League championship tentatively set for Feb. 26 at a site yet to be determined.

CHSL director Vic Michaels will announce the playoffs for the Bishop Trophy involving the five Central Division squads and the top three teams from the Double A Division, who currently are Detroit Loyola (5-0), Dearborn Divine Child (2-2) and Ann Arbor Fr. Gabriel Richard (2-3).

The Cardinal Division will follow a similar playoff format involving the top five teams from Intersectional I and top three from Intersectional II divisions.

Defending champ Riverview Gabriel Richard leads the pack in Intersectional I with a 13-0 overall record and 7-0 in league play. They are followed by Marine City Cardinal Mooney (5-3), Ann Arbor Greenhills (4-3), Madison Heights Bishop Foley (4-4) and Royal Oak Shrine (2-6).

The top three in Intersectional II Division are Clarkston Everest Collegiate (5-0), Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett (5-0) and Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes (4-3).

In girls basketball, playoffs will be staged for the championship contest Feb. 19 at a site to be determined.

The current leaders are Farmington Hills Mercy and Divine Child, each 8-1, atop the Central Division; Shrine and Wixom St. Catherine of Siena lead the Double A Division with identical 7-1 records. Bishop Foley (6-0) tops Intersectional I, and University Liggett (6-0) leads the Intersectional II Division.

St. Mary’s wins, Rice loses at Grand Rapids Showcase

Last Saturday, St. Mary’s and Brother Rice took a timeout from the Central Division stress to participate in the Showcase at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, which featured six games, each one pitting teams from the east side of the state against teams from the west side. The east got the best, finishing 5-1 on the day.

The Eaglets (11-3) built a 41-22 halftime lead en route to a 63-48 victory over Grand Rapids Christian. Three players were in double figures: JaVaughn Hannah had 21, Kareem Rozier 12, and freshman guard Sharod Barnes 10.

Brother Rice lost in overtime, 68-64, to Grand Rapids Northview. Jonathan Blackwell scored 20 points to lead the Warriors (9-4), while Curtis Williams and Xavier Thomas finished with 17 points each.

CC wins 27th straight CHSL wrestling title

Catholic Central earned eight individual titles to win its 27th straight CHSL wrestling championship.

The Shamrocks winners were Nathan Walkowiak (103 pounds), Michael Cannon (112), Drew Heethuis (119), Anthony Walker (125), Clayton Jones (130), Jake Matigian (140), Dylan Gilcher (145), and Andrew White (171).

Other individual winners included Sean Mammen (135) of U of D Jesuit; Joey Calhoun (162) of Riverview Gabriel Richard; Charles White (160) of St. Mary’s; Vinny Lertola (189) of De La Salle; Iahn Breen (215) of Ann Arbor Fr. Gabriel Richard; and Isaiah Ploucha (285) of Divine Child.

Catholic Central finished with 240.5 points. St. Mary's was second at 142, and De La Salle finished third with 139.5.

Contact Don Horkey at [email protected].


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