CHSL boys a step closer to determining basketball champion

The crowning of boys basketball champions will take a final step forward tonight in a pair of semi-final contests.

Two finalists were determined last night (Feb. 12): Royal Oak Shrine in the C-D Division and Detroit U-D Jesuit in the A-B.

Who they play for the CHSL championship will be decided tonight (Feb. 13). At 5:30 p.m., Madison Heights Bishop Foley and Ann Arbor Greenhills will fight for the other half of the C-D bracket, followed at 7 p.m. by Detroit Loyola and Novi Detroit Catholic Central battling for the A-B slot. Both games will be at Bloomfield Hills Marian.

The championship game will be held Saturday night (Feb. 16) at the University of Detroit Mercy’s Calihan Hall.

It was only 11 days ago Shrine and Cranbrook played each other, and the Cranes romped to a 24-point victory. ‘Twas not going to be the case in this rematch. Shrine came out on top 62-48 to return to the championship game they last played (and won) in 2016.

The loss was a bitter one for Cranbrook, hoping to win a second-straight title.

From start to finish, Shrine let their opponents know they didn’t show up to just win. They were determined not to lose.

That determination was on exhibit in the game’s final 8 minutes. Leading 47-44 in spite of not being able to hang on to three seven-point leads and an eight-point lead, coach Jim Skaggs’ crew tightened the defense, allowing Cranbrook just four points and forcing them to miss a dozen shots.

Sharpshooter A. J. Massucci nailed a three-point bomb and Ben Plunkey added a basket to put Shrine up 52-46 with two minutes left. Their last 10 points came from the free-throw line. Massucci led all scorers with 18 points (15 in the second half), including three 3-pointers and 6-of-6 free throws. Dan Romano had 12.

Jordan Benson had 13 and Alex Finney 12 for Cranbrook.

The U-D Jesuit-Orchard Lake St. Mary's game wasn’t pretty. Free-for-alls usually aren’t. The state’s No. 1-ranked Division 1 team (U-D Jesuit) prevailed 46-38, breaking away from a 32-32 tie after three quarters, and limiting the Eaglets to just six points.

St. Mary’s offense is built around junior sensation Lorne Bowman, who had the game-high 19 points. The Cubs were led by Daniel Friday 13, Justin Dozier 10, and Jalen Thomas 9.

Coach Pat Donnelly's squad will be shooting for Jesuit’s seventh crown in a row.

Last Saturday in the A-B quarterfinals, U-D Jesuit and especially Novi Detroit Catholic Central were forced to expend a little more energy than they expected against lower seeds.

Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice played the Cubs to a 19-19 halftime deadlock. Whatever wake-up call Donnelly gave his squad, they responded to win 54-42.

Catholic Central found itself in a more precarious position against Macomb Lutheran North. The Shamrocks won it down the stretch, 68-64.

In the other A-B games, St. Mary’s advanced with a 61-45 victory over Dearborn Divine Child. Bowman led the Eaglets with 28 points.

In what might be a mild upset, Loyola beat Warren De La Salle 53-45. Cam Hudson had 12 points, Mark Mayberry 12 points and 11 rebounds and Dyland Hemphill 10 points for the Bulldogs. It was the Pilots’ sixth loss in their last eight games since the start of the new year.

Things went pretty much as expected in the C-D Division quarterfinals. Cranbrook Kingswood had its way with scrappy Detroit Cristo Rey, 64-37. Seniors Alex Finney with 18 points and Jordan Benson with 14 paced the offense.

Early in the fourth quarter, Cranes center Danny Files, who’s listed at 6-feet-2 and 305 pounds, scrambled for a loose ball and crashed to the floor in obvious agony, clutching a badly swollen right ankle and bruised right shoulder. He left the gym on crutches in the company of his parents en route to a hospital. He’s a lineman in football and has committed to Valparaiso.

Shrine raced out to a 7-0 lead against Marine City Cardinal Mooney, leading all the way for a 53-43 triumph. The Massucci brothers – senior A. J. and junior Anthony – each had 17 points and three 3-point baskets.

In what some thought would be a much closer battle, Bishop Foley disposed of Riverview Gabriel Richard, which came into the game with a 13-2 record, 56-41.

“We played with a lot of confidence,” said Ventures coach Marty Stefani. “I don’t know if we can play much better.” 

Senior Sam Siepker had 18 points, half of them via free throws.

The last game of the afternoon was a disappointment for Clarkston Everest Collegiate, blown out by aggressive Greenhills, 84-43. Steve Snabes had 16, Drew Sachs 13, Samir Hafez 12, and Finn Klein 10 to lead the Gryphons.