Warren De La Salle senior wing Justin Fischer goes up for a layup in a March 12 playoff win over Harrison Township L'Anse Creuse. Fischer scored 15 points as the Pilots bested Macomb Dakota 56-51 March 14 to win a Class A regional title.

Warren De La Salle senior wing Justin Fischer goes up for a layup in a March 12 playoff win over Harrison Township L'Anse Creuse. Fischer scored 15 points as the Pilots bested Macomb Dakota 56-51 March 14 to win a Class A regional title.

Photo by Deb Jacques


De La Salle basketball outlasts Dakota on way to regional title

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Online Only | Published March 14, 2018

 Macomb Dakota boys basketball coach Paul Tocco talks with his team during a March 12 win over Roseville High. The Cougars fell just short of winning a second regional title in three years.

Macomb Dakota boys basketball coach Paul Tocco talks with his team during a March 12 win over Roseville High. The Cougars fell just short of winning a second regional title in three years.

Photo by Deb Jacques


MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Warren De La Salle’s Luke Pfromm is having a decent senior year.

Last fall, Pfromm guided the Pilots offense to a football state title.

His big fourth quarter in a March 14 Class A regional final against Macomb Dakota pushed De La Salle to a 56-51 win and the basketball program’s first regional championship since 2010.

“It’s pretty cool. Being a part of a football team that went all the way and being on the run we’re on now as a basketball team,” said Pfromm, who scored 10 of his game-high 16 points in the fourth quarter of the regional final. “I don’t want to jinx it, but I think we can keep going. We can play with anybody.”

Pilots coach Greg Esler called Pfromm a cool customer. The De La Salle coach said his senior standout prior to the regional final called a win.

“He’s not an arrogant guy. He’s just a good kid and a good player,” Esler said.

The Pilots (18-7) advance to take on University of Detroit Jesuit in a state quarterfinal at 5 p.m. March 20 at the University of Detroit Mercy. De La Salle and UD Jesuit have met three times this season, with the Cubs taking all three matchups by an average of six points per game.

“I texted with (UD Jesuit coach Pat Donnelly) earlier today and he said, ‘See you in the quarterfinals,’” Esler said. “We’re good friends, but we’ll be ready to play them. We played them tough the last two times we saw them.”

In a game that was tight throughout, Dakota (17-8) took its first lead at 22-20 on a layup by senior forward Brayan Sterkaj with 6:58 left in the third quarter. The score was a part of a 9-0 Cougars run to start the second half that saw them go up 26-20.

“We just started shooting the ball with confidence,” Dakota coach Paul Tocco said. “We weren’t really in the moment in the first half, and in the second half we started shooting and playing with confidence.”

The Pilots answered with a 10-0 run of their own, fueled by back-to-back 3-pointers by senior guard Easton Sikorski, who scored six of his eight points on the spurt.

The fourth quarter featured lots of fireworks, as the first 3:33 of action featured two ties and three lead changes. Dakota took a 41-37 lead on a pair of free throws from freshman guard Joshuah Hines with 3:05 left. De La Salle countered with an 11-0 run in 96 seconds to go up for good at 48-41 with 1:29 left.

“We were more aggressive on that run,” said Esler, who led St. Clair Shores Lake Shore to a state title in 1994. “We got up into them, and that’s how we were able to take control.”

Dakota, led by sophomore guard Ryan Rollins who scored 12 points,  pulled to within three points twice late. Pilots senior guard Justin Fischer, who netted 15 points, was fouled twice late and hit four free throws to seal the win.

“It’s my senior year. I didn’t want this to be my last game,” Fischer said. 

Tocco called the loss a tough one. 

“We have a lead in the fourth quarter, and we just didn’t finish,” Tocco said. “They’re a good basketball, team and they have some seniors who hit some big shots in our gym. It was a two-possession game. I’m really proud of this group. We’re really young. We’ll be back here again.”

To get to the regional final, the Pilots knocked off Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse 75-60 March 12. De La Salle beat Warren Cousino 72-61 March 9 to claim a district championship.

Dakota was after its first regional title since 2016. The Cougars beat Roseville High 44-39 March 12 to advance to the regional final. Dakota beat Anchor Bay 47-42 March 9 to win a district title.

Esler called this title special.

“We’ve got nine seniors on this team, so they had to do something to leave a legacy,” Esler said. “I don’t know how many of these we have, but this feels great.”