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 Macomb Dakota junior Brent Schwesinger makes a layup in a win over Utica Eisenhower earlier this season. At press time, the Cougars had won 10 straight games.

Macomb Dakota junior Brent Schwesinger makes a layup in a win over Utica Eisenhower earlier this season. At press time, the Cougars had won 10 straight games.

Photo by Sean Work


Dakota boys basketball on quite a roll

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published February 12, 2020

 Macomb Dakota junior wing Ryan Rollins shoots over Utica Eisenhower’s Jake Munn earlier this season. Rollins leads the Cougars with 26 points per game, along with eight rebounds and seven assists.

Macomb Dakota junior wing Ryan Rollins shoots over Utica Eisenhower’s Jake Munn earlier this season. Rollins leads the Cougars with 26 points per game, along with eight rebounds and seven assists.

Photo by Sean Work

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Following a couple of early, non-conference setbacks, the Macomb Dakota boys basketball team has played like a squad on a mission.

The Cougars fell 60-56 to Detroit Cass Tech in the season opener and dropped a 70-62 decision against Flint Powers Catholic in early January.

At press time, Dakota was currently on a 10-game win streak, pushing its record to 13-2 overall and 8-0 in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division.

The Cougars beat Roseville High Feb. 4 to guarantee themselves a share of their fifth division title in six years.

On their current blitz, the Cougars have won by an average of nearly 20 points per game.

Dakota coach Paul Tocco will tell you the team isn’t a finished product, though.

“I feel we’ve made improvements as the year has progressed,” Tocco said. “We’re still working to improve our man defense, which is a goal every day in practice. But we’re satisfied with (our record) so far this year.”

Tocco said playing a tough non-conference schedule — which also included wins over Birmingham Brother Rice, West Bloomfield High and Detroit Western International — prepared the Cougars for the grind the MAC Red presents. Tocco, who led Dakota to the 2016 Class A state semifinals, said playing in tough games can only help a team improve.

The transition offense has played a big role in the run, Tocco said. Dakota so far scores the third-most points in the 36-team MAC, trailing only St. Clair Shores Lakeview and Grosse Pointe South. Dakota beat South earlier this season and held the Blue Devils to 62 points — more than 13 points under their season average.

“We want the game going up and down,” Tocco said. “That’s our style and the way we like to play.”

Leading the way for the Cougars is junior wing Ryan Rollins. Rollins missed some time last season due to injury, but he’s been a force so far this season. He’s averaging 26 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, three steals and two blocks.

“(Rollins) does everything for us. He’s our Mr. Basketball candidate,” Tocco said. “He plays the game at a very high level, and he brings our team play to the next level for sure.”

Tocco said Rollins isn’t doing it alone.

Junior guard Joshua Hines is a strong defender on top of being the team’s second-leading scorer; senior center Xavier Glenn gives the team a strong post presence; senior guard Joey Tocco is a solid all-around player; and sophomore Tymias Williams, and seniors Shawn Schwesinger and Antonio Cordova have also made solid contributions.

The MAC Red title is a good accomplishment, but it’s just one of many goals the Dakota program set for itself coming into the season.

“We want to win the MAC Red/White Division tournament title, win a district title, win a regional title and make another trip to (the state finals),” Tocco said. “These are our goals. We just want to get better every day in practice to meet the goals we’ve set.”

Dakota’s next game is in the opening round of the MAC Red/White tournament against an opponent to be determined. For updated tournament information, visit macombmac.misd.net.

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