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BOYS BASKETBALL: Troy shuts down DeLaSalle to claim first regional crown since 1989

| March 15, 2017 | Comments (0)

BY DAN STICKRADT

SENIOR EDITOR

dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com

Twitter: @LocalSportsFan

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TROY — Gary Fralick opted to become a gambling man Wednesday night.

The veteran Troy boys basketball coach struck some gold in the process.

Troy packed into a tight zone and forced Warren DeLaSalle to chuck it from the cheap seats. The gamble worked as the Pilots shot just 24.1 percent from the floor (13-for-54) and Troy capitalized on DeLaSalle’s bad fortune in recording a 48-40 victory in the Class A regional finals at Troy Athens.

Troy (21-4) captured its first regional title since 1989 and earned a date with West Bloomfield (16-8) in the state quarterfinals Tuesday at University of Detroit-Mercy’s Calihan Hall.

“We forced them outside with our zone and prayed they’d miss,” smiled Fralick, who is in his 32nd season as a head coach. “(DeLaSalle) usually shoots it better than that. But we played some great defense on them. We got good rotations on them and slowed them down. We rebounded the ball well. I don’t think they had too many offensive rebounds against us that I can remember.”

Troy trailed 8-3 early, but closed the first quarter with an 11-2 run for a 14-10 lead. The Colts never trailed after the first quarter and led 26-20 at the half.

A 12-2 run to close the third quarter, including five straight from junior forward Jason Dietz to cap the spurt, gave Troy a 38-25 cushion through three quarters of play.

“He can shoot the ball. He’s our leading scorer and he’s pretty clutch,” said Fralick of Dietz.

DeLaSalle outscored the Colts 15-10 in the fourth quarter and at one time closed to within 43-38 with 4:23 remaining on two free throws by junior forward Kole Gjonaj. The Pilots could not complete the comeback.

Junior center Danny Sully scored on a leaner-in-the-lane with 1:41 left to push the lead back up to seven points (45-38) for the Colts and help seal the deal.

Troy, which has not started a senior during the second half of the season, was far more efficient on the offensive end, shooting 41.1 percent from the floor (16-for-39), 72.7 percent from the foul line (8-for-11) and 53.4 percent from beyond the three-point arc (8-for-15).

Troy also held a 38-28 edge on the boards.

“We did a good job of getting the ball into the right hands when we had possession,” said Fralick. “Plus we had some second chances. We rebounded the ball well, took advantage of our length inside.”

Dietz scored a game-high 16 points, sinking 4-of-7 three-pointers, to go along with three blocked shots and three rebounds for the Colts. Junior guard Leon Ayers added 11 points, seven assists and four rebounds, and the 6-foot-6 Sully chipped in with six points, 10 rebounds and three blocks for Troy.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” smiled Dietz. “I mean the last time we won (a regional) I wasn’t even close to be born yet. That’s crazy. We believe in one another and now we’re here (with a regional championship).”

Troy’s pesky zone defense and length grounded the Pilots for most of the night.

DeLaSalle fell in love with the deep threat a little too much, converting just 4-of-15 three-pointers in the first half and 6-of-31 for the game (19.4 percent). The Pilots made just 53.4 percent from the charity stripe (8-for-15).

“To be honest, we had some good looks but we just didn’t shoot it well at all,” noted DeLaSalle coach Greg Esler. “We missed some layups, missed a lot of threes in the first half, and we were terrible from the free throw line. I think we missed five (free throws) in a row at one time. And then we lost Deitz a few times and he hit some big shots. We wanted to guard him and make someone else beat us. But he still got free and scored (16) on us. And this may have been the worst shooting game we had all season.”

Junior guard Luke Pfromm finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and two steals, but made only 4-of-13 three-point attempts for the Pilots. Gjonaj added eight points and nine boards, while junior guard Justin Fischer had a quality floor game with seven assists, six rebounds, five steals, two blocks and two points for DeLaSalle.

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About Dan Stickradt: DAN STICKRADT | SENIOR EDITOR dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com View author profile.

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