Published March 16, 2012
Pilots bow out in regionals
By Jon Malavolti firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Jon on Twitter.
Warren De La Salle’s boys basketball team’s season came to an end March 12 in the regional semifinal round.
The Pilots (19-5) fell 72-50 to Detroit Martin Luther King (19-7) in a Class A contest at Detroit Cass Tech.
The team won the Catholic League’s Central Division for the fifth year in a row and a district title for the 14th straight season.
“I’m proud that its one of the best runs in the Catholic League,” De La Salle coach Greg Esler said. “I’m happy. You analyze everything, you made a great run.”
The Pilots, who were searching for their fourth regional title in six years, will have “some big shoes to fill” when it comes to replacing a talented senior class.
“It’s going to be really difficult, going to have a big challenge,” Esler said.
First and foremost among those losses is forward Connar Tava who’s heading to Western Michigan University and who Esler called “the best player I’ve ever coached at De La Salle.”
Along with guard Brad Law, another senior Esler expects to play in college next season, the coach called the duo one of the best 1-2 punches around. The pair went 60-12 in three years on the varsity.
“They played defense, scored, passed, defended, and they were unselfish,” the coach said. “They knew how to win. I wouldn’t trade those two for anything.
Tava and Law join classmates Justin Beal, Marc Wouters, Matt Temerowski and Billy Petzold in the departing talented group.
“Those six guys definitely left an impact,” Esler said. “We’ve got some shoes to fill, no question about that.”
The coach said he hopes the returning group learns from the loss and season overall.
“I think the underclassmen saw how the seniors reacted to the loss; it wasn’t a happy ending by any stretch of imagination,” Esler said. “The way King played, you have to get yourself to that level of intensity and skill. You can turn around and wait till May or you can start playing now. It’s a sport you can get better at working out by yourself.
“There’s some talent, but we always put high expectations on ourselves,” the coach continued. “We’re going to have to work extremely hard in the offseason to get ready for next year.”