WARREN, Mich. - De La Salle found out it would be playing a new opponent Saturday, Detroit Edison Public School Academy, only hours prior to tipoff.
Yet, led by senior guard Linden Holder's second consecutive 30-point performance, the Pilots pulled out a 72-68 victory against the Pioneers at the Bill Fox Gymnasium.
Catholic League central division rival Detroit Catholic Central was originally scheduled for the Saturday matinee but decided against playing due to COVID-19 precautionary reasons. The Pilots discovered the lat-munte schedule change at 11 a.m. that morning.
Despite Catholic Central's cancellation, DLS head man Jon Djokaj was determined to make sure his seniors had a game to play on "Senior Day."
DLS's roster this season features four seniors, including Holder, forward Bryan Schneider, guard Jacob Moceri and guard Leo Adewusi.
"Words can't describe" how proud Djokaj is of his senior class.
"Coming from a Hall of Fame coach in Coach (Greg) Esler to a first-year coach, having to learn a whole new system and program culture, they've, from Day 1, bought in and been locked in," Djokaj said after the game. "They could've gone one way or the other, and they decided to go all in. And they're teaching our young guys a lot about maturity and toughness and physicality. So, they're the foundation of our program moving forward, I couldn't be prouder and we'll certainly miss them."
In taking on Edison, the Pilots went head-to-head with a team that is vastly different than Catholic Central, according to Djokaj.
"Well, this team (Edison) couldn't be any more different than Catholic Central, where I think Catholic Central is loaded with shooters. These guys, in stark contrast, are extremely big at every position and physical," Djokaj said. "I think they almost broke our rims today. But, I was proud of my guys for being able to make the necessary adjustments, to wipe out one scouting report and kind of learn on the fly."
Holder shares the sentiment that CC and Edison are "completely different" teams.
"Yesterday, we were prepping for CC. And CC and Edison are 100 percent different teams," Holder commented. "So, we knew we just had to come in, work hard and play with heart in order to beat Edison."
And the Purple and Gold did just that, despite battling some free-throw shooting woes in the fourth quarter -- 5-of-10 shooting from the line in the quarter -- that helped the Pioneers cut the deficit to one, 69-68, with less than 30 seconds to play.
Holder went 8-of-10 from the charity stripe and sunk his final two attempts from the line to help secure the four-point win for the Pilots.
He also contributed five assists, four rebounds, and three steals.
Meanwhile, junior guard Caleb Reese and sophomore guard Jack Yanachik each finished with 10 points.
Next up for Djokaj & Co. is the Catholic League Tournament. They open up tournament play Monday at 7 p.m. at Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard.
DLS 58, Catholic Central 46: Sophomore Adam Broski finished with a team-leading 12 points, and fellow sophomore Brady Drogosh chipped in 11 points in the winning effort for the Purple and Gold.
Detroit Catholic Central 83, De La Salle 52: Joe Maisano led all Pilots scorers with 12 points, and was also the recipient of the team's "Hard Hat" for his hustle play on both ends of the floor. Meanwhile, Sal Taormina contributed 10 points.