De La Salle Dominance: MHSAA Basketball Finals Day 2
EAST LANSING, Mich. – The first game of Friday tipped off at noon between De La Salle and Grand Rapids Northview. Northview rolled into the Breslin lead by 2022 Belmont commit, Kyler Vanderjagt. De La Salle came in with a 19-7 record, only 13-7 on the regular season.
Vanderjagt was a finalist for Mr. Basketball in the state of Michigan and was in for a tall task facing off against De La Salle’s gritty defense.
At the end of the first quarter, De La Salle leads Northview 16-11, with six points coming from 2023 point guard, Nino Smith. Smith is arguably De La Salle’s most important player as he controls the pace of the team, makes the right decisions often, defend well, and can score when he wants to. He is exactly what you want in a point guard and has been exceptional during De La Salle’s run.
By halftime, De La Salle extended their lead by a point to the score of 30-24. Smith scored 11 points in the first half on an efficient 4-5 shooting, but the biggest story of the game was big man Michael Sulaka.
Sulaka didn’t miss a shot in the first half and had 11 points at halftime. He was also a very strong presence on the interior and was making it difficult for Vanderjagt, who had seven first-half points, near the rim.
About midway through the third quarter, De La Salle extended the lead to eleven, before being answered by an athletic dunk from Northview’s Tyran Thomas and a basket from Vanderjagt to keep Northview in the game.
The third quarter belonged to Kyler Vanderjagt as he had nine points and Northview ended the quarter on a 5-0 run making it 43-37, De La Salle. Vanderjagt was getting to the rim with ease and if he didn’t end up with a layup, he was at the line.
Unfortunately for Northview, De La Salle is probably the last team in the state you want to be playing catch up with. The Pilots are extremely well-coached and have no issue wasting time on offense. Nino Smith and De La Salle began the fourth quarter with a very slow and methodical approach, not hesitating to let the clock wind down.
The Pilots opened the fourth on a 6-0 run making it a 49-37 game with six minutes left. Despite the phenomenal student sections on both ends, you could sense that this game was over. De La Salle was just too good on defense and made too few mistakes for the Northview Wildcats to come back on.
Northview began playing the foul game with a little over three minutes left, and at that time De La Salle was already 14-16 from the line on the day.
The final score was 59-45 with the De La Salle Pilots moving on to play in the Divison One state championship game. Michael Sulaka finished with a dominant 20 points and 8 rebounds and Nino Smith finished with 16 points.
Vanderjagt lead Northview with 19 points, but it was a very quiet 19, and all of the credit on that goes to the De La Salle defense. They did a great job on the Belmont commit and took him out of the game at times. Besides Vanderjagt’s nine-point burst in the 3rd, De La Salle made life difficult for him.
The Pilots will take on the Grand Blanc Bobcats on Saturday in the championship game.