EAST LANSING – Mr. Jockey saw this.

Basketball coach De La Salle Collegiate last summer thought about the huge talent in the Central Division of the Catholic League and suggested that the team could finish 13-7 during the regular season but make its way deep into the state playoffs.

“Here we are,” said Jockey in central Breslin after the Pilots qualified for the championship.

Here they are, really.

Nina Smith scored 18 points and his junior teammate Tristan Nichols 17 on Saturday led de La Salle to a 67-58 victory over the Grand Blanc in the Division 1 final.

Senior Tamario Adley scored 12 points when the Pilots won their first state crown and became the third Macomb County boys team to win it all.

The Warren School also became the first after Clarkston in 2017-18 to win football and basketball championships in the same school year, and the Pilots were the first county team to win the title in hoops at Class A / Division 1.

Lake Shore in 1994 and New Haven in 2017 won in Class B.

“It was a back-and-forth game,” Jockey said. “This (Grand Blanc) is a champion caliber team, obviously.

“Our children are heavy. They passed combat tests. I am very glad that we will become champions. “

The pilots finished fourth in the Central Division, but won seven playoff games and finished 20-7.

Since 2014, when the Pilots won the first of four football championships, DLS has won seven team state crowns, including one each in baseball and hockey.

“I think it shows what a fraternity there is in De La Salle,” Smith said.

De La Salle has also won one or more MHSAA football and bowling championships.

RJ Taylor scored 28 points to lead the Grand Blanc, owner of the 2021 state crown.

“We just didn’t have that today,” Bobcats coach Mike Thomas said after his team finished 21-5. “Warren de la Salle deserved the victory today.”

Thomas paid tribute to DLS fans, including the student section, which he said created a “great atmosphere” for the game.

“We didn’t have that (a lot of fan support),” he said.

Adly’s basket led De La Salle 51-45, which was the biggest for the Pilots so far, with 3:37 left in the fourth quarter. Caleb Reese added a free throw, and Nichols scored two free kicks and a three-pointer from the left corner, leading 57-49 with 2:13 to go.

De La Salle closed the third quarter at 15-9, increasing by 42-38. Audley was in the lead with three-pointers in a row. Phoenix Glassnor added a jumper, and Smith ended the rally with a three-point game.

De La Salle made 19 of 23 free throws in the game. Grand Blanc was 9 out of 16.

3-point Smith from the right flank in the buzzing break brought De La Salle ahead 27-24.

The pilots had 4.2 seconds to fend off the blow after a missed free-kick Grand Blanc went off the field, but two assists got the ball to Smith.

The drivers had seven turns against six Grand Blanc, and the DLS scored 41.7% to 55.6 for the Bobcats in the first half, but still held the lead.

In the first quarter, the lead passed six times from hand to hand, which ended with Grand Blanc leading 13-12.

The DLS missed their first seven shots, but Nichols connected to a three-pointer from the corner to drive the Grand Blanc ahead with a score of 4-0.

Te Boyd and Taylor scored eight points each for the Grand Blanc in the first half.

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