Shelby Township,Macomb TownshipMarch 10, 2014
Utica Eisenhower defeats Macomb Dakota in overtime
Eagles advance to play Warren Mott in a regional final
By Thomas Franz
C & G Staff Writer
The Utica Eisenhower boys basketball team got by Macomb Dakota 65-64 in overtime March 10 to stay alive in the 2014 MHSAA state playoffs. Pictured is Eagles senior Dan Chmielewski going up for a lay up during the March 10 game.
For the second game in a row, Utica Eisenhower nearly gave away a 15-point fourth quarter lead, but once again, the Eagles were able to pull out another playoff thriller, this time in overtime.
Dan Chmielewski scored the game-winning basket with 34 seconds left in overtime. With the Eagles down a point, Chmielewski drove to the hoop and scored on a layup as a Dakota defender got called for a blocking foul underneath the basket.
"I saw him (the Dakota defender) planted, and those are always judgements calls. We've been getting hurt on a lot of those calls where he tries to step around him and the guy slides a little bit and the refs still call a charge even though they shouldn't," Eisenhower coach Dave Schwesinger said of the game-winning basket. "It was another kid stepping up in a big spot."
Dakota was unable to score after that, as the Eagles won 65-64.
"We've been saying since the beginning of the playoffs it's a constant one-game season and every minute counts. Today most of the minutes counted. We kind of fell asleep for a little stretch, but our only goal is to get to the next day. I don't care if it's pretty, I don't care if it's ugly, just live another day," Schwesinger said.
With the game tied at 36 midway through the third quarter, Eisenhower went on a 15-0 run that stretched 40 seconds into the fourth quarter. Dakota iimediately stormed back by going on a 17-4 run to cut Eisenhower's lead to four with 1:15 to go.
It appeared Eisenhower had stopped the bleeding when Alek Frascone made two free throws to put the Eagles up six with 31 seconds left, but Dakota's D.J. Lazarus hit a 3-pointer on the next possession to put the pressure back on Eisenhower.
After the Eagles missed the front end of a one-and-one, Lazarus was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 9.9 seconds left, and sank all three to tie the game.
Eisenhower had two great looks at the basket before the end of regulation, but the Eagles were unable to convert.
"I'm proud of the effort. We were down 15 at one point, and we could've quit, and we didn't. We made it a game to push it to overtime," Dakota coach Paul Tocco said. "Obviously I'm very disappointed, but I'm proud of the way the kids reacted when they were down. I couldn't ask for more effort."
Lazarus finished the game with 16 points for Dakota, and Brian Orr led the Cougars with 20 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Chris Marshall added 16 points for the Cougars, who closed their season with a 17-6 record.
Brandon Brundirks led Eisenhower with 17 points and 17 rebounds. Frascone added 13, Chmielewski and Charlie Hayes scored 12, and Justin Greason chipped in with 10.
Eisenhower (18-6) advances to play Warren Mott in a regional final at 6 p.m. March 12 at Dakota.