It was only fitting.
In the aftermath of University of Detroit Jesuit’s 56-34 basketball victory at Novi Detroit Catholic Central, the wrestling mats were rolled out on the floor.
The CC Super Duals weren’t going until the next morning, but the prelims may have well started Friday night as the state-ranked Cubs and host Shamrocks grappled around for 32 minutes.
CC hung around for a half, trailing 28-21, but found themselves in the choke-hold for the remaining 16 minutes in the Catholic League Central Division opener.
That’s because U-D Jesuit’s defense limited Catholic Central to 11 second-half points to improve to 6-1 overall.
“They’re talented and physical,” CC coach Bill Dyer said of the Cubs. “And they kind of pushed us out of some things that we were trying to do. But they’re good. They’re super athletic, they’re long and they have the top player in the state (Cassius Winston) well coached … they’re a hard team to beat.”
Winston, the highly acclaimed 6-foot junior point-guard, was coming off a 35-point performance in a 56-53 setback Tuesday at Romulus.
Against CC, he suffered through a 5-for-14 shooting night, had four turnovers and finished with a mere 12 points.
“He didn’t play one of his better games,” admitted U-D coach Pat Donnelly. ” He’s got to learn to be more consistent. He’s been really good for us. He’s been averaging 26 points, seven assists and five rebounds for us. He’s entitled not to have a great game, but luckily I thought we defended.”
Catholic Central (3-4) committed a total of 27 turnovers on the night and went scoreless for 6 minutes and 24 seconds during the third quarter as U-D built a commanding 41-25 advantage.
“It was difficult all night for us to get into our offense,” Dyer said. “They were physical with us the complete length of the floor, and for the entire 32 minutes it never stopped. Maybe they wore us down. They’re long, they’re talented. We’re young, too. We just have to get better.”
U-D’s 6-9 sophomore center Ikechukwu Eke finished with a game-high 15 points, including back-to-back steals and dunks midway through the final quarter.
Senior guard Gary Collins added 13 points, including seven in the third period as U-D outscored CC 13-4.
“Gary played pretty well,” Donnelly said. “He was aggressive going to the basket. He’s a good defender. I think in the second half, especially when Ike Eke got a couple of dunks, that kind of gets our guys going a little bit.”
Gio Genrich, a sophomore guard, led CC with 12 points. Senior center Ike Marchie added six, but picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter.
Despite the game resembling a Central Division football game or even a high school rugby match, CC didn’t attempt a free throw until there was 1:20 left in the final quarter.
The Shamrocks went 15-of-41 from the floor (36.5 percent), while U-D was 22-of-55 (40 percent).
“It was an ugly game,” Donnelly said. “I thought we turned up the defense in the second half. We got a little more aggressive and took them out of some things. It was physical. It always is. In the Catholic League it’s a physical game.”
And one thing the Cubs may be working on leading up their next game is foul shooting.
“In 30 years of coaching I’ve never seen a team go 8-for-29,” Donnelly said. “That’s just a lack of concentration. Our guys are much better than that.”