Courtesy of the Oakland Press…
Riverview Gabriel Richard’s Drew Daiek took the form of fictional street-ball legend Uncle Drew in the fourth quarter Friday night, with the game and a CHSL title on the line late.
The legend continues.
Daiek, a senior swingman and hard-nosed “3 & D” guy, pumped his fist and shot a look to the opposing crowd that said, “I just plunged the dagger into your hearts.” The coach kept his cool even though it was his son bombing away to take his club to a repeat Catholic League boys basketball crown.
Daiek’s 3-pointer from the right elbow in the final few minutes lifted Riverview Gabriel Richard into the lead for good in the Pioneers 46-39 victory over Clarkston Everest Collegiate in the small-school Catholic League finals (Cardinal Division).
The dagger from Daiek placed Gabriel Richard on top 39-38. Six straight free throws by junior point guard Nick Szczechowski in the closing two minutes iced the championship for the Pioneers, who are riding a nine-game winning streak into next week’s state tournament.
“That 3 energized us,” Daiek said. “We were slipping a little and we kept our cool and turned things around.”
Pioneers head coach Kris Daiek tried to hide his emotion during his son’s huge moment.
“I wanted to leap into the air and celebrate, that’s what I felt like inside. But man, was that a great feeling, both as his father and his basketball coach,” he said.
Szczechowski sheeted 10 points, five assists, five steals and five rebounds in the game. Gabriel Richard senior small forward Mike Holdsclaw had 15 points and junior big guy Mike Calhoun made his way into the stat sheet with 10 points and eight boards.
“Everest came at us hard in the second half……we had to match their aggressiveness and that’s what we did,” Holdsclaw said.
Gabriel Richard (11-2) went in front 25-15 at halftime. Everest forward Mike McGrath was fouled shooting a triple on the last play of the third quarter and his three free throws stalemated the contest 32-32 heading into the fourth.
The Mountaineers (11-2) took their first lead of the game at 38-36 with 4:46 remaining on a pair of free throws from guard Lucas Cross. Daiek’s long-distance arrow-through-the-heart followed two minutes later.
Clarkston Everest Collegiate’s Joey Thibodeau (13) drives to the basket between Riverview Gabriel Richard defenders Drew Daiek (3) and Cainan Harrison (22) in the second half of the Pioneers’ 46-39 win, allowing them to claim their second straight Catholic High School League Cardinal Division tournament championship. (MATTHEW B. MOWERY – For MediaNews Group)
Cross and McGrath scored 10 apiece to anchor Everest. Friday’s game was played at University of Detroit-Jesuit instead of Calihan Hall because of COVID-19 restrictions.
The core of Gabriel Richard’s lineup returned this winter from the program’s first-ever Catholic League title team last year.
“When you are focusing on doing the little things right, the wins start to come together,” Szczechowski said.