Macomb Lutheran North completed one climb by defeating Riverview Gabriel Richard. Another journey awaits the Mustangs.
Drew Arft scored 24 points and Eli Thaut and Jack Hilt had 12 apiece Sunday to lead Lutheran North to a 70-62 victory over Gabriel Richard in the Catholic League C-D Division boys basketball tournament championship game at Calihan Hall.
Kevin Kapanowski added eight points as Lutheran North won for the seventh time in eight games to lift its record to 16-3 in Jeff DeMasse’s first season as coach.
“They were a real good offensive team, but we got on them,” Arft said. “Everyone played great.
“The season is divided into three parts,” Arft continued. “You have the conference, and we won that. Then we won this tournament. Now a new season starts all over again.”
Lutheran North, the Catholic League Intersectional 1 Division champion, begins state district tournament play March 6.
“We want to get some banners up at school,” Arft said. “It’s definitely important. We’re not that prideful in basketball.”
Anthony Brown scored 20 points to lead Intersectional II champion Riverview Richard, which fell to 16-3 and was denied its first division tournament championship since 1999.
Tahj McGee and Deshon Elam scored 12 points apiece for the Pioneers.
“We knew rebounding was going to be a key,” Riverview Richard coach Kris Daiek said. “We knew Lutheran North would be a heck of a rebounding team.
“They won the battle of the boards.”
The Mustangs, Daiek said, shot the ball well.
The Pioneers, he added, were mindful of the abilities of Arft, Lutheran North’s leading scorer, and Hilt, who helped the Mustangs control the boards and converted a couple of spin moves into buckets, but the Mustangs’ supporting cast played key roles as well.
“We didn’t expect some of the other guys to make shots like they did, but they made them, and you have to give them credit,” Daiek said.
Riverview Richard was making its first appearance in a tournament final in more than 10 years.
“It’s been a great experience playing in this historic building,” Daiek said.
This year was the first that Lutheran North was eligible for the tournament. The Macomb Township school spent several years in the now-disbanded Metro Conference before moving to the Catholic League.
“Our defense was the key,” DeMasse said. “This has been very enjoyable, especially for our seven seniors.”
DeMasse said every Mustang listed winning the Intersectional 1 championship and the C-D tournament title as goals during the preseason.
“Our other goal is the third part of the season, and that starts soon,” DeMasse said, referring to the state tournament.
Thaut’s 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer gave Lutheran North a 58-35 lead, and helped the Mustangs expand what had been a 43-28 halftime lead.
“That was huge,” Arft said of Thaut’s triple. “The third quarter is when you win or lose.”
Riverview Richard had crept to within nine points in the quarter, but three-point plays by Thaut and Arft plus two free throws by Hilt pushed the Mustangs to a 55-35 lead with 16 seconds left.
Thaut picked up a loose ball seconds later, drove into the forecourt and pulled up for the triple that ended the third.
Arft scored 13 points in the first half to help Lutheran North build a 43-28 lead.
Lutheran North led 38-18 on a basket by Thaut midway through the second quarter, but the Pioneers were still to be heard from in the first half.
Tim Augustyniak, who had to sit for several minutes due to first-quarter foul trouble, made a 3-pointer for his first points of the game with 2:15 left, and Brown added a triple that gave him 11 points and pulled the Pioneers to within 40-28 with 47 seconds left.
Brown finished the first half with 13.
Lutheran North led 18-12 at the end of a foul-filled first quarter. Intersectional II Division all-star Augustyniak was called for three fouls in the quarter, and Riverview Richard had six team fouls to the Mustangs’ five.
There were three lead changes in the first quarter, but Lutheran North moved to a 16-10 lead on Peter Freeman’s triple with 39 seconds left, and, after a pair of Riverview Richard free throws, Arft made two free throws with 1.1 seconds left to give the Mustangs the six-point lead they carried into the second quarter.
Augustyniak finished with 11 points.
Shrine was the defending tournament champion.