Rice hands Pilots first loss

WARREN, Mich. - Playing the Catholic League Central, De La Salle Collegiate knew it was going to be a war when it took the court each and every night.

For proof of that, look no further than what happened Saturday. Brother Rice returned to finish Friday night's postponed game against the host Pilots, and the Warriors picked up where they left off, red hot from the field, hitting 11 3-point baskets en route to a 79-67 victory over the Pilots.

Freshman forward Curtis Williams had six of those 3-pointers and finished with a team-high 22 points, one of four Warriors to reach double figures. He had eight points in each of the second and third quarters to help his team pull away and fend off De La Salle.

The game was a continuation of Friday night's postponed contest, which was stopped at the 4:06 mark of the first quarter due to condensation on the floor of Bill Fox Gymnasium. Brother Rice was leading 8-6 when the game was stopped. Williams hit one of two early 3s for the Warriors. And on Saturday he remained hot, connecting on two more triples in the second quarter. The first helped his team extend its lead to 20-11. The second came late in the quarter and built his team's lead to 31-23. 

De La Salle cut the Warriors lead to six points early in the third quarter thanks to back-to-back 3 pointers by junior William Smythe. But it was Williams who scored six quick points to help Rice build its lead back up to 49-37. Smythe did his best to keep De La Salle in the game, scoring 13 of is game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter. He had seven 3 pointers.

But the Warriors were just too good down the stretch. Freshman Xavier Thomas had six points and junior Jon Brantley hit all six of his free throws in the fourth quarter to help their team win its Catholic League opener.

"For a young team to play that mature, to come back on Saturday and close out that win, we've got an excited locker room," Brother Rice head coach Rick Palmer said. "This is a really, really hard place to win games. We don't take that for granted. Coach (Greg) Esler's got a great team and a great program and we couldn't be happier."

The loss was the first of the season for the Pilots (5-1 overall, 0-1 Catholic League Central). Smythe's 28 points were a career high. Fellow junior Linden Holder had 13 points and senior Josef Gjonaj added 10 in the loss. Freshman Triston Nichols had seven points. The Pilots were missing senior Nick Troszak, who suffered a foot injury and did not suit up for the team.

"Unfortunately in our first league game we didn't show up, plain and simple," Esler said. "They smacked us in the face and we took it. Tonight truly showed how much we missed Troszak. He's a great defensive player and they owned us in the paint."

De La Salle will be back in action Tuesday, when it hosts Rochester Adams back at Bill Fox Gymnasium. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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