Birmingham Brother Rice and Detroit Country Day renewed a hardcourt rivalry Friday evening that had been dormant for 11 years.
The last time the Lahser Road rivals met, the Alex Legion-led Yellowjackets easily buzzed past the Warriors. This time around, before a vociferous crowd crammed inside the tiny Rice gym, the host Warriors easily prevailed, 77-51.
“We played really hard. We really had to focus on (DCD seniors DeShawn Lewis and Nazir Wallace), and they’re both superstars,” said Brother Rice head coach Ed Shaffer, who was an assistant at Rice when the teams last met. “I thought we did a pretty good job on them. We put our best defenders on them and I thought we did okay. We did a good job stopping some pretty good players tonight.
“We played hard. We got loose balls, scrapped with them on the boards and we shot it pretty well,” he said. “It was just a good night for us. A lot of things went right. I’ve been on the other side of that so I’ll enjoy it while I can.”
The Warriors (6-1 on the season) scored two points on free throws before the game even started when DCD was called for a technical for running through Rice’s pre-game warm-up. Seniors Drew Gallagher and Kevin Hayes then scored consecutive buckets on lay-ups once the game tipped-off to put Rice up 6-0.
Nazir Wallace scored DCD’s first points on a put-back lay-up, but Rice went up 10-2 and went on to build a lead it would never relinquish.
The Warriors, playing stingy defense and opportunistic offense, led 21-11 after one quarter and 41-22 at halftime. Rice maintained its intensity throughout the second half, outscoring DCD by a 36-29 margin to account for the final 26-point outcome.
“I would say it was probably our worst game of the year just because we’re further along,” said DCD’s second-year head coach Mark Bray, whose team is now 3-5 on the season. “Rice is senior-laden, tough and they executed and capitalized on our mistakes.
“When we got frustrated and gambled defensively, then they turned it into a lay-up or a three. We could have been a better defensive team tonight. Offensively, we’re not executing very well and it’s something we’re trying to work on.
“We have some talented players, but when things get difficult right now, they try to do things on their own,” he said. “They have to understand that even though they have talent – and everybody has talent in this world – you can’t do anything by yourself.”
Brother Rice’s leading scorers were senior forwards Kevin Hayes and Drew Gallagher who hit for 19 and 17 points, respectively. The veteran seniors also combined for 12 rebounds – Gallagher with eight and Hayes with four.
Junior forward Karl Kauffman and senior guard Ryan Jordan each hit a pair of treys and finished with eight points. Senior guard Nick Bielkie contributed a team-high three assists.
Lewis and Wallace, both seniors, each poured in 13 points for Country Day. Junior guard Milan Williams finished with nine points.
“All we talked about before the game is let’s get this going,” said Shaffer regarding his pre-game conversation with Bray. “This is a great atmosphere. It was a ton of fun and our students responded and their students responded.”
The teams plan to meet next year at Country Day.