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Cousino boys basketball team upends De La Salle to win district title

Patriots end Pilots 14-year district crown run

Published March 8, 2013

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The Warren Cousino boys basketball team knocked off Warren De La Salle 66-58 March 8 in a Class A district final. Pictured is Patriots senior forward Tony Aldridge, left, during a March 6 district semifinal win over Warren Mott.

FRASER — A packed house watched Warren Cousino knock off Warren De La Salle 66-58 in a Class A district final March 8 at Fraser High.

The win was a historic one for the Patriots, as they ended Pilots coach Greg Esler's run of 14 straight district titles.

"De La Salle is the team to beat in our city," Cousino coach Chris Shepard said. "To beat a team like that is a great accomplishment."

The Patriots advance to take on Detroit Southeastern at 5:30 p.m. March 11 at Grosse Pointe North.

The game was tight throughout. Tied at 44 going into the fourth quarter, no team held more than an eight-point lead at any point in the contest. The Patriots (15-7) outscored the Pilots (17-5) 22-14 in the final stanza to secure the win. Half of Cousino's fourth-quarter points came via free throws. The Patriots went 11 for 16 from the line in the fourth.

"(De La Salle) was coming at us hard with a half-court trap, and we were just trying to get the ball in and get it to the baseline," said Shepard, a Warren Mott graduate in his second year with Cousino. "These kids have worked hard all season long. I've been dreaming about something like this ever since I decided I wanted to be a coach."

The game turned in the third quarter. Down 42-35, the Patriots used a 9-0 run to take a 44-42 lead late in the third. Cousino, which before the run last led midway through the second quarter, would never trail again. A lay-up by Patriots senior forward Tony Aldridge, who netted nine points in the contest, gave Cousino the lead it wouldn't relinquish.

"That third quarter was the turning point," Esler said. "I thought they more than matched our intensity. We wanted to play at our pace. Sixty-six points is a lot for us to give up."

Those 66 points were 13.4 more than the 52.6 De La Salle had allowed going into the contest. Cousino bested its season average (59.5) by 5.5 points.

"We saw (Cousino) a million times," Esler said. "We just didn't get it done tonight."

Patriots senior forward/center Daymen Hardges led Cousino with 24 points, including 15 in the second half. Senior teammate swingman Cory Vicks chipped in with 14.

Freshman guard Kevin McKay and junior swingman A.J. Turner paced De La Salle with 14 points a piece. Pilots junior guard Jimy Chapman netted 13.

Cousino went 19 for 27 from the foul line. De La Salle converted 22 of 31 free throws. The Pilots hit 15 of 20 from the foul line in the first half.


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