Ongoing power outage struggles around metro Detroit pushed back the Class C, District 72 championship game at Riverview Gabriel Richard High to Saturday.
The contest was originally scheduled for Friday night at the school.
Heading in, the host Pioneers were seeking consecutive district crowns for the first time since 1999-2000. But standing in their way was an upstart, red-hot Ecorse club coached by former Michigan star Jimmy King.
The two needed an extra session to decide a winner, in what was a tightly contested affair. But it was King and his Red Raiders of Ecorse who defeated the Pioneers 61-57 in overtime.
The two teams went back and forth all game long, minus a stint in the second quarter where Richard (19-4) created some separation with a double-digit lead. But the Raiders fought back and trailed the Pioneers 31-27 at the break. King attributes his team’s win to making plays when it mattered most.
“Our team is able to fight through adversity,” King said. “It was a very physical ball game and they remained very disciplined down the stretch. They did the things that were our Achilles’ heel early on in the year when we started 0-7.”
The victory for Ecorse put them over the .500 mark at 12-11, winners of five consecutive games overall. King said that aside from the improved play, it’s the players trusting each other and no longer “at 101 level.”
Pioneers Coach Kris Daiek anticipated a very close game from the get-go, knowing the opposition rather well.
“It was a fun game to be a part of,” Daiek said. “I coached with Jimmy over at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and it was good to see him again. Our kids battled and played hard, they never stopped until the last second.”
“We wanted to try and keep them on the perimeter,” Daiek said. “The first thing was trying to keep them off the glass, limit some of their attacking lanes. The game came down to rebounding, more specifically second shots, and I don’t think we did that enough tonight.”
Both teams had a field day from behind the arc. The Red Raiders and Pioneers combined for 15 threes, and Richard earned nine of those. Matt Silka of the Pioneers was responsible for three of them, he finished with 11 points, all coming in the second quarter. Anthony Brown led Richard in scoring with 13 points and one triple.
For Ecorse, Greg Williams and Kaleb Maddox made five if the Raiders’ six three-pointers. Williams had three and finished with 12 points. Maddox led all scorers in the game with 20 points.
Daiek said despite the loss, he likes where the program is at and especially likes the depth in the system.
“I think you saw some of the youth in that first half,” Daiek said. “We’ve got some very talented sophomores – Matt Silka, Garrett Balaszi, Deshon Elam. Our freshman and JV programs are pretty good. I think we got some competitors, I’m excited about the future.”
Richard repeated as a league champion this year, reached the CHSL championship game and was ranked among the top Class C teams in the state.
The Red Raiders advanced to regionals next week at Bishop Foley High School in Madison Heights. They will play Cornerstone Health & Tech on Monday at 5:30 p.m.