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Pilots struggle in CHSL quarterfinal loss

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. — Some days, the shots are just not falling.

Saturday was one of those days for the De La Salle Collegiate basketball team.

The Pilots rallied from at least five points down twice in their Catholic League quarterfinal game at Bloomfield Hills Marian Saturday, but couldn't muster up one final rally, as they fell to Detroit Loyola 52-47.

De La Salle trailed 36-33 entering the fourth quarter, but quickly erased that deficit just a minute in. Sophomore Caleb Reese found senior Nick Troszak under the basket to cut the lead to one. On the team's next possession, senior Josef Gjonaj hit a pair of free throws to give his team a 37-36 lead. After another defensive stop, junior Linden Holder took the ball all the way to the basket, scoring off the glass to extend the Pilots' lead to 39-36 with 5:34 left to play.

Loyola would score the next five points to regain the lead, only to lose it again thanks to a Reese free throw and a layup by junior Will Smythe with just under four minutes remaining. 

But Loyola would go on a 9-2 run to all but put the game away. Mark Mayberry connected on 8 of 10 free throws and scored 10 of his game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter to help the Bulldogs (13-2 overall) advance to the tournament semifinals, where they'll face U-D Jesuit Tuesday night.

Troszak led De La Salle with 18 points, which tied his season-high. Sixteen of those 18 came in the second and third quarters to help his team stay in the game. The rest of the team scored just six points during that stretch of the game. Smythe, who hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter, finished with 10 points, and Holder and Gjonaj each added seven in the loss.

"We played hard today but we just couldn't get our shots to fall," coach Greg Esler said afterward. The loss drops the Pilots to 10-7 on the season.

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