U of D Jesuit claims first basketball title

Cubs beat North Farmington 69-49 in Class A final

By: Christian Davis | Farmington Press | Published March 26, 2016

 North Farmington's Amauri Hardy rises to the hoop in the Class A final. The Raiders fell 69-49.

North Farmington's Amauri Hardy rises to the hoop in the Class A final. The Raiders fell 69-49.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes

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EAST LANSING — Detroit U of D Jesuit’s perfect season came with a perfect ending.

The Cubs (28-0 overall) won the program's first state championship, beating North Farmington 69-49 March 26 in the Class A final at the Breslin Center.

“Being named state champion in Michigan in Class A is something we dreamed of at U of D with over 100 years of basketball history,” Jesuit coach Pat Donnelly said. “There’s a lot of emotion and a lot of pride to say we’re state champions.”

Jesuit did it in large part to senior guard Cassius Winston.

Winston, a Michigan State University-commit and Mr. Basketball Award winner, finished with 31 points on 14- of-16 shooting and added in nine assists.

“This was definitely one of those days where I knew I was going to have to be my best,” Winston said. “It’s going to be my last high school game, last chance at winning this state championship. … I was zoned in, focused and ready to go.”

The Cubs opened the game on a 6-0 run and never trailed. The Raiders cut the lead to 16-15 after a bucket from Billy Thomas, but Jesuit scored the last 5 points of the frame to go up 21-15 heading into the second, including another basket from Winston.

“That’s the best I’ve seen him play in four years,” North Farmington coach Todd Negoshian said of Winston. “I don’t know if it as the big stage, his final game, but that’s the Cassius Winston that’s going to Michigan State.”

The Cubs took full control early in the second quarter, pushing the lead to 34-17 with five minutes left in the half. The Raiders never recovered.

North Farmington (24-3) struggled from the field, shooting 33.9 percent, compared to Jesuit’s 63-percent mark. The Raiders were also 5 of 24 from beyond the 3-point line, including 0 for 9 in the first half.

“Sometimes, you live by it and die by it. Today just wasn’t our day,” North Farmington’s Alex Darden said.

Billy Thomas led the Raiders with 23 points.

This postseason was still a special run for the Raiders. The program made its first championship appearance and won its first regional title along the way.

“I can’t say enough about this group of kids, what they meant to our program, what they mean to our school and community. They’ve left an impression and a footprint, not just from a basketball standpoint, but from a life standpoint,” Negoshian said. “How to behave, how to carry yourself and how to represent you and your family in a proper way.

“This goes ways beyond the basketball court. There just aren’t enough words to describe how proud I am of them.”

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