Late push lifts Catholic Central basketball over De La Salle

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Online Only | Published February 7, 2020

WARREN — An 8-0 run over the last four minutes of the game lifted Novi Detroit Catholic Central to a 45-42 win over Warren De La Salle Feb. 7 on the road.

The win was a big one for the Shamrocks, giving the team their first win inside the Catholic High School League Central Division. Catholic Central is now 4-9 overall and 1-6 in the Central Division. The Pilots fall to 9-4 overall and 2-4 in the division.

“I just challenged the guys. We didn’t do anything differently down the stretch,” Shamrocks coach Brandon Sinawi said. “We’ve been struggling for a lot of the year. This is a big win for us.”

De La Salle until the last 1:03 of the game led for all but four possessions. The Pilots took a 42-37 lead on a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Caleb Reese with 4:27 left in regulation. 

Catholic Central sophomore forward Caleb Craggs, who scored a game-high 15 points, scored 6 of his team’s last 8 points, including two free throws with 5.5 seconds left to seal the win.

Free throws were the story for the Shamrocks. Catholic Central entered the fourth quarter at 3 of 8 from the line. The team went 8 for 9 on free throws in the fourth quarter.

“That was a focus for us this game,” Sinawi said. “We’re not as bad a free throw shooting team as we showed early.”

De La Salle coach Greg Esler said he was disappointed with his team’s effort in the game. 

“We didn’t play well at all. We had 44 possessions and about four of them were good,” Esler said. “Give Catholic Central credit — they wanted it more than we did.”

The Pilots were without senior guard Josef Gjonaj, who missed the game with the flu. Gjonaj scored 20 points in De La Salle's 20-point January win over Catholic Central. Esler didn't use Gjonaj's absence as an excuse, noting that Catholic Central also had players out.

Pilots junior guard Will Smythe led the team with 12 points. Reese chipped in with 9 off the bench.

Catholic Central hit six 3-pointers to De La Salle’s three.

Catholic Central’s next game is against Birmingham Brother Rice at 7 p.m. Feb. 11 on the road.

De La Salle’s next game is against Orchard Lake St. Mary’s at 7 p.m. Feb. 11 at home.