The Boys Basketball Team faced Ecorse who was favored to win the district. GR had not beaten Ecorse in over 8 years. The PIoneers where coming off wins against Taylor Prep and Cabrini and advancing to the finals against a very talented Ecorse team.
Richard had won the district in 2016, ending a 10 year drought and played in the district championship game 5 of the last 6 years. GR lost to Ecorse in a thriller 2 years ago in overtime and last year to Green Hills by 4 points.
In the first quarter, it was a defensive battle. Ecorse would lead 10-7 . Senior, Garrett Balazsi would score on a three-pointer keep game the close.
“We knew we would have to keep the game close early.” Head Coach Kris Daiek said. “They are very talented and we felt if we could keep them within 2 possessions, we would have a chance.” Diaek said.
In the second, both teams would trade baskets. Senior, Deshon Elam would hit a ket two-pointer and Junior, Nick Huiser would score on a driving lay-up to close the gap to 2 points after a 5-0 run by Ecorse. Kevin Tuttle (Sr.), Mike Holdsclaw (So.) and Jacob Henderson (Sr.) would all put in baskets to keep the game within striking distance. Gr would trail 24-19 at the half.
“We had some chances in the first half.” Coach Daiek said. “We pushed the ball on them and didn’t finish at the basket.”
In the Third, The Pioneers would strike on both ends of the floor. Tuttle would lead the charge with 2 three-pointers and Senior, Matt Silka would drop in 5 points to 11-2 run to ignite the Pioneer Frontier. GR would feed off the boisterous and packed student section.
“The students were unbelievable tonight. Our kids fed off that…no question.” Coach Daiek said of the Pioneer Frontier student section.
Gabriel Richard would outscore Ecorse 18-8 in the quarter. Matt SIlka would drop in 5 point sand Senior Deshon Elam would score 3 points. Ecorse received all 8 points by Senior, Deondre Bonepart. The Pioneer would carry a 37-32 lead heading to the fourth quarter.
“Our kids responded.” Said Coach Daiek. “That was impressive on both ends of the floor. Our seniors stepped up and played some great basketball…passionate.” Coach Daiek said.
In the fourth, things started to get interesting. Both teams would trade baskets. Every possession was a mad scramble with kids from both teams diviving for loose balls and fighting for rebounds. In 6 straight possesions, the Raiders and Pioneers would crash to the floor. Mike Holdsclaw came up for Richard on several occasions scoring 4 points and 5 rebounds in the fourth. GR would go up as many as 9 points. Ecorse would answer. Deandre Boneapart would get shut down in the final 8 minutes but Torjano Bibbs would score 11 points to keep the Red Raiders in the game. However, Garrett Balazsi would answer every Ecorse run. The Senior standout would score 11 points in the final quarter.
“He was in total control out there.” Coach Daiek said. “He really matured tonight. They brought some big-time pressure and he answered the bell. It was impressive.” Coach Daiek
With emotions running high, It was the Pioneers kept their composure. Ecorse with just under 3 minutes would get a technical foul that would lead to 4 points and a seven-point lead.
“We expressed to our players (in a timeout) that we had to keep our composure. It was getting emotional and we had to stay grounded.” Coach Daiek said. “Our seniors kept their composure.”
The Pioneers would take the game 60-50 and advance to the Regional Semi-Finals on Tuesday night vs. Erie Mason at Whitmore Lake High School.
Garrett Balazsi led GR with 15 points in the game and had 8 assists and 7 rebounds. Kevin Tuttle scored 12 points and pulled down 8 rebounds. Deshon Elam had a solid performance scoring 10 points and ripping down 7 rebounds. Both Matt Silka and Mike Holdsclaw scored 8 points. Holdsclaw, a Sophomore, may have played his best game. grabbing 9 rebounds and scrapping for 3-4 loose balls that created scoring opportunities for GR.
“Wow…our kids played with a passion that we haven’t seen. Our student section was awesome. It was a great atmosphere.” Head Coach, Kris Daiek said.
The Pioneers will face Erie Mason who advanced to the regionals with a win over Summerfield. Erie Mason, who is 20-2 and is ranked in the top 7 in the state.
“It will be a different game.” Coach Daiek said. “We scrimmaged them early in the year…they are very talented. Coach Skaggs and I coached against each other in college…it will be fun.” Coach Daiek added. We have to play our best to compete with this team.”