Chris Rollins is the other sophomore stepping up for Warren De La Salle.
Sophomore Kevin McKay, the team’s leading scorer averaging 16.5 points, gets the attention, but Rollins’ 11 points in the fourth quarter, all but two from the free-throw line, preserved the Pilots’ 49-44 victory Saturday against Detroit Douglass (5-4) at Warren Fitzgerald High School.
The Pilots improved to 7-2.
“The nice part about it was he wanted the ball,” coach Greg Esler said of point guard Rollins. “He had great composure. Chris Rollins is going to be a very, very good basketball player. In the last couple of minutes, guys can disappear. He played with great comfort and composure. We had at one time two sophomores and a freshman out there. We’re getting better and better. They’re very coachable and great kids.”
Rollins finished with 18 points; McKay, who struggled with foul trouble, scored 13. Darrell Davis scored 14 points and Daavi Bradley 11 for Douglass.
With the teams locked in a close game, Alex Capoccia scored four straight points and Rollins made two free throws to give the Pilots a 40-37 lead with 2:52 left.
Deshawn Sanders made one of two free throws to make it 40-38. Nelson Cagle’s basket put the Pilots up, 42-38, but Davis drained a three-pointer for a one-point game. The Pilots’ Jim Chapman converted one of two free throws, but Davis missed two with 1:09 left, leaving De La Salle ahead, 43-41.
Rollins made six free throws in the final minute seal the game for De La Salle.
“They were applying a lot of pressure to the ball, so I just beat them with my quickness, and when it came crunch time I hit my free throws,” Rollins said. “Kevin starts out slow a lot of time until he gets into his rhythm. We need to tighten up our offense.”
McKay scored six early points, but was forced to the bench when he picked up his second foul late in the first quarter.
Rollins scored seven points, helping the Pilots to a 17-10 lead after one quarter as Douglass had problems scoring despite having Division 1 prospects Davis (Dayton) and Terrell Hales (Cleveland State) in the lineup.
Esler put McKay back on the floor early in the second quarter, playing a zone to protect him from a third foul.
Bradley, a 6-foot-5 senior, challenged the Pilots inside, scoring nine points to keep Douglass close at halftime, 21-18.