MACOMB TOWNSHIP — After two thrilling victories to get to the regional final, Utica Eisenhower saw its playoff run come to a close by way of a 63-52 defeat to Warren Mott.
Eisenhower rallied from a 34-16 deficit at halftime to make it a 42-34 Mott lead going into the fourth quarter, but Mott held off the Eagles in the final eight minutes.
“They were the better team. We had a couple of stretches where we played well. They dominated us on the boards,” Eisenhower coach Dave Schwesinger said. “We were able to make some runs, though. I’m just proud of the kids. They could have quit when we got down 22, but they hung in there and fought back. We won the rebounding battle in the second half and closed the gap, but we dug too big of a hole early on.”
Senior Dan Chmielewski led the Eagles with 19 points, and junior Justin Greason added 14 points and 13 rebounds. Charlie Hayes had nine assists.
Mott’s duo of Kenny Goins and Derek Murphy combined to score 40 points, and Schwesinger knew that it would be difficult to slow both of them down.
“We put in some things to try to slow them down, but they’re two great players. We tried to throw a couple different looks at them to give them something to look at. We were able to slow Goins down — then Murphy got hot,” Schwesinger said.
To get to the regional final, Eisenhower beat MAC Red regular-season champion Romeo in a district semifinal to set itself up for a deep playoff run.
Eisenhower held on to defeat Utica 49-44 in a thrilling district final. In the regional semifinal, the Eagles won the rubber match with Macomb Dakota by way of a 65-64 win in overtime.
“We’ve been kind of spoiled here at Eisenhower the last 10-15 years with district titles and playing in regional tournaments, but this was the first for this group,” Schwesinger said.
Despite the loss, Schwesinger said he was proud of his senior class. Four of the five regular starters this season were seniors Alek Frascone, Charlie Hayes, Dan Chmielewski and Brandon Brundirks. Curtis Bunger was the other senior on this year’s Eisenhower team.
“We had the kids for three to four years. They always worked hard and played hard. Right now, it’s hurting for them. Hopefully, in the next couple days, they realize what they accomplished. Not a lot of kids get to play in a regional or win a district, so hopefully they take that away from the experience,” Schwesinger said.