‘Perfect’ Gabriel Richard and U of D Jesuit seek to repeat as CHSL champs

Coach Kris Daiek and Gabriel Richard will be seeking their third consecutive CHLS championship when playoffs begin this weekend. The Pioneers are the league’s only undefeated team this winter and the winningest squad in the last three years. (Photo provided by Gabriel Richard Athletic Department)

RIVERVIEW — Which high school has the only perfect record in Catholic League basketball this winter?

And which one has the best overall record the last three years?

The answer is the same for both questions: Gabriel Richard. The Pioneers from Downriver are 16-0 (10-0 Intersectional I Division) heading into Saturday’s opening quarterfinal round in the CHSL boys basketball championship playoffs.

Coach Kris Daiek’s squad is 47-4 (25-1 league) adding up 2019-20 (19-1; 10-0), 2020-21 (12-3; 5-1) and the current year to date. The 2020-21 season was suspended in the spring of 2021 by the outbreak of COVID-19. In addition, the Pioneers will be seeking their third straight CHSL championship.

Gabriel Richard’s success has been built on an unlikely starting lineup of three seniors and a pair of freshmen.

“They’re tough kids,” said Daiek, who is in his 11th year as coach and athletic director. “They’re fun to be around.”

Seniors Nick Szczechowski, 6-foot-7 Mike Calhoun (Albion commit) and Cainan Harrison have been on the varsity for four years and provide veteran leadership and composure for ninth-graders Nick Sobush and Luke Westerdale.

Statistics reflect their balance and cohesiveness. Calhoun averages 13 points and nine rebounds; Sobush 11 points and three assists; Westerdale 11 points and two steals; Harrison 10 points and six rebounds; and Szczechowski nine points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

“They work well together,” Daiek said. “They all have a high basketball IQ.”

The Pioneers have won their games by an average of 16 points. The closest they came to spoiling their record was a two-point win over Monroe in December and a 46-43 decision earlier this week over Mason Erie on Westerdale’s triple.

The Associated Press ranks them sixth-best in Division 3.

Jesuit takes command of the Central Division

In the fifth and final week of the mayhem called the Central Division, University of Detroit Jesuit and Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice took matters in their own hands to settle the leadership of the division.

But it wasn’t easy. Are you surprised?

On a Tuesday evening, the Cubs bolted from their halftime locker room, down by nine points to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, and went on a 17-7 spree to lead for the first time in the game, 38-37, late in the third quarter.

The lead changed hands nine more times. The Eaglets’ Kareen Rozier sank a clutch free throw with 12 seconds to play for a 56-55 lead. The Cubs raced downcourt for the winning points on Zavier Banks’ buzzer-beating rebound of a missed shot for a 57-56 victory.

At about the same time at Novi Detroit Catholic Central, in another game that went back-and-forth, Rice’s Curtis Williams converted four of four free throws to give the Warriors the cushion for a 76-73 overtime win over the Shamrocks.

Three nights later, all was calm. U of D Jesuit had little difficulty beating Catholic Central, 65-43, to claim the Central title with a 6-2 record.

Brother Rice turned away Warren De La Salle, 67-53, for second place in the league at 5-3. It was the Warriors’ fourth win in a row after a 1-3 start.

St. Mary’s (4-4) couldn’t win back-to-back games. The Eaglets would win a game, then lose the next one, then win, then lose, win, lose, win, lose.

De La Salle wound up fifth at 3-5 and Catholic Central, loser of five games in a row, finished at 2-6.

Coach Pat Donnelly’s Cubs won the CHSL championship a year ago, the eighth in the last nine years. He'd best heed the advice of Shakespeare’s King Henry the Fourth: “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”

In the playoff game at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Brother Rice and Catholic Central will clash for the third time. Neither team will forget CC’s 55-51 win on Rice’s floor or the Warriors’ 76-73 overtime victory in the Shamrocks’ gym. This could be the most exciting game of the entire playoff.

The Associated Press ranks U of D Jesuit No. 2 in Division 1 and drops St. Mary’s to No. 5, Rice No. 6, De La Salle No. 13.

Cardinal Trophy playoff Saturday, Feb. 19

Here’s the lineup of the Cardinal Trophy playoff, comprised of the best five teams in Intersectional I Division and three best from Intersectional II. All games will be played at U of D Jesuit High School:

  • At 11 a.m., Marine City Cardinal Mooney (10-6) vs. Ann Arbor Greenhills (7-6). At 12:30 p.m., Clarkston Everest Collegiate (11-4) vs. Royal Oak Shrine (6-11). The winners play Tuesday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. at Bloomfield Hills Marian.
  • At 2 p.m., Grosse Pointe University Liggett (8-5) vs. Madison Heights Bishop Foley (9-7). At 3:30 p.m. Gabriel Richard vs Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes (8-7). The winners play in the semifinal at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 22 at Marian.
  • The championship game will be played at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 26, in the Eastern Michigan University George Gervin GameAbove Center (formerly the Convocation Center).

Bishop Trophy playoff Saturday, Feb. 19

Here’s the lineup of the Bishop Trophy playoff, comprised of the five teams in the Central Division and three best from Double A Division. The games will be played at Marian High School.

  • At 11 a.m., Detroit Loyola (12-6) vs. Warren De La Salle (11-5). At 12:30 p.m., Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (11-5) vs. Novi Detroit Catholic Central (7-7). The winners will play the semifinal game at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 23, at Eastern Michigan.
  • At 2 p.m., Dearborn Divine Child (9-6) vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Prep (11-4). At 3:30 p.m., U of D Jesuit (10-4) vs. Ann Arbor Fr. Gabriel Richard (9-5). The winners meet in the semifinal at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 23, at Eastern Michigan University.
  • The championship game will be held at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 26, at Eastern Michigan University.

Contact Don Horkey at [email protected].


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