Allen Park Cabrini coach Gerry Klos didn’t know how long. His two leading scorers didn’t know how long, either. The trio just knew it had been too long — way too long since the boys basketball team had advance to Calihan Hall.
Cabrini beat Riverview Richard for a second time this season, 45-42, in the Catholic League C-D semifinals tonight at Birmingham Marian to earn a trip to Sunday’s final at Calihan.
“We just wanted to get the win, get to Calihan,” senior David Szczesny said. “That was the bottom line, it didn’t matter how we did it. It’s been a rough season, but that’s a good present at the end.”
Cabrini entered the game with seven wins — including an overtime win over Gabriel Richard. But with 10 losses to Richard’s 11-4 record, it made Cabrini the underdog.
“We were the smallest team in our league all year, and I think going through that helped us prep for late in the season,” Klos said. “Understanding that we play with the (limited) size that we had we have to be a little more physical, do the fundamental things like boxing out, and playing aggressive defense.
Cabrini had a 21-15 halftime lead that grew to 29-22 late in the third on a basket and free throw by Robert DeBlander. But the majority of the second half, Cabrini was in no rush to score.
“We were up five or six, so we just wanted to take it slow, keep possessions, not rush the game too much and let it come to us,” Szczesny said.
Richard fought back to within three points on several occasions, but got no closer. A desperation three at the buzzer went a little wide, or it would have made two overtime games between the schools.
“Tonight was about taking care of the ball,” Klos said. “We’ve been making too many turnovers, honestly 17-19 turnovers a game this year. So we took care of the ball a little bit today, and then we found the opening, we took advantage of a weakness from watching film.”
The Pioneers were led by John Lemieux’s 15 points on five three-pointers, with another 13 points from Tyler Blaszczak.
Scott Smith led Cabrini’s balanced attack with 11 points; Szczesny and Jared Hicks added 10 points each.
“The second half was tough to penetrate (their sagging defense) but we figured it out,” Smith said. “But we drew the fouls.”
Cabrini went to the free-throw line eight times in the final 5 minutes, making eight of 15, just enough to keep Richard at bay.
“It’s a good win,” Klos said. “It’s good for the school, good for the community against a rival like Gabriel Richard, and it was a good game. I hope everybody got their money’s worth.”