Late heroics earn Divine Child a co-championship over Detroit Loyola
Feb. 5, 2019
DEARBORN — As Catholic High School League boys’ basketball teams complete their regular-season schedule – including several make-up games delayed by inclement winter weather – they aim to enter the league tournament on a positive note.
And things can’t get much more positive at Dearborn Divine Child, which is gearing up for this Saturday’s playoff quarterfinals while possessing a share of the AA Division title. The Falcons shocked Detroit Loyola last Saturday, 61-58, by outscoring the Bulldogs 8-0 in the final 34 seconds of the contest.
“I’ve just been saying to my coaches, ‘I don’t know how that just happened,’” Divine Child head coach Mac Horvath said following the exciting conclusion. “Our kids have got a lot of heart and our seniors just stepped up – seven seniors that have done nothing but lead all year, and today it was no different.”
Well, Mac, here’s how that happened: down 58-53 in the final minute, the Falcons attempted three triples but missed all of them. They fouled the Loyola player who rebounded the third one, but he missed the first of a one-and-one free throw, and Divine Child got the ball back.
Senior guard Parker LePage drove to the hoop and was fouled as his bank shot fell. Despite missing the “and-one” free throw, the loose ball was batted around and LePage came up with it, one-handing it back through the hoop from directly underneath. That brought the Falcons to within 58-57 with 23 seconds to play.
Divine Child quickly fouled a Loyola guard on the in-bound pass, and he also missed the ensuing free throw. Senior forward Kyle Gurney was able to drive the lane, and when his shot fell with 10.6 seconds left, it gave the Falcons their only lead of the second half.
Gurney also quashed Loyola’s last attempt by blocking a shot, and Jack Kenney added a last-second bucket to account for the 61-58 margin.
“It was all a blur,” said Gurney, who finished with a game-high 27 points. “We decided, ‘You know what? They’ve got a big lead. We need to chomp back at each possession.’ We just locked up and we got the result we wanted. We all battled, we played defense, we got stops and we just finished at the rim. It was a team effort. It was real fun to play today and I’m real proud of the boys.”
“We just had to keep doing what we were doing – keep grinding and keep scratching and clawing, and keep finding a way,” Horvath added. “Our kids just kind of dug in, they kept working on the defensive end. They want to wear teams down; I don’t know if we really wore them down, but it was just a fun day today.”
Both teams had their Achilles Heels: Loyola only made 2-of-8 free throws during the second half, but Divine Child made just 2-of-16 three-point attempts during that span.
“We’ve won about every way you can win,” Horvath said of his Falcons (13-3, 5-1 AA). “That’s probably the first one where (we won even though) we weren’t making shots and we let it get away for a little bit, but we just stuck to it, so it’s kind of the way this group rolls.”
Loyola (9-5, 4-1 AA) had led since the third minute of the second quarter – by as much as 9 points, midway through the third – only to see it slip away in the closing seconds.
“Unfortunately for us, we just didn’t make the plays we needed to down the stretch, missed some free throws, and missed a box-out on a free throw and let them get the ball back,” Bulldogs coach Dennis Morey said. “We’ve got to learn how to close out games. We did a great job of that in our last game with we played (Westland) John Glenn; unfortunately, it didn’t go the right way for us today with our high scorer fouling out late in the fourth – he’s also our best free-throw shooter.”
Things were just as exciting the first time the two Catholic League rivals met this season, with Loyola claiming a 64-58 overtime victory.
“It could have been almost a carbon copy. We had the lead late, but then seniors were making plays down the stretch for them,” Morey said. “It’s just a great rivalry. Senior-led teams are just fighting for everything. They want to go out on top as champions and put themselves in the right spot for the Catholic League playoffs.”