The Pioneers have done it again.
On Friday, Croswell-Lexington took on Imlay City in the Division 2, District 63 boys basketball championship. Despite a slow start, Cros-Lex won 46-35, claiming its fourth straight district title.
“It’s really cool to win districts again, especially with all the guys I’ve grown up playing with,” four-year varsity player Trey Kolakovich said. “I think we played alright. We played good defense, but we could have shot better.”
Trailing 9-5 early in the second quarter, the Pioneers pulled away with a 6-0 run, thanks to back-to-back buckets from senior Trevor Soule, sparking their usually productive offense.
Imlay City sophomore Zander Nash would tie the game back up 11-11, but Soule stole a rebound underneath his team’s basket, securing the put-back and regaining the Pioneers’ lead.
Minutes later, Kolakovich converted on a steal as well, driving down court with a perfectly-executed behind-the-back crossover followed by a spin for a layup.
A battle from beyond the arc followed: Imlay City sophomore Matt Evans inched the Spartans within one at 15-14, but Cros-Lex senior Zachary Kroetsch answered right back. Soon it was senior JD Trout’s turn, keeping the Spartans within one, but Kroetsch wouldn’t be outmatched as he sank his second shot with 14 seconds remaining in the half, giving the Pioneers a 21-17 lead.
The battle continued into the second half as both teams picked up three quick points on their first possessions, Kolakovich for the Pioneers and Nash for the Spartans.
From there, fellow senior Donovan McDonald took over for the Pioneers, scoring all 10 of his points in the second half–the same late-game production that proved key for Cros-Lex throughout the tournament.
In the semifinal against Yale, the Pioneers trailed for much of the game. As they narrowed the deficit in the fourth quarter, it was McDonald who scored the last basket of the game with a reverse layup to secure the 50-49 victory.
“We all really appreciate Donny crashing the boards on the last shot and finishing it,” Kolakovich said. “He allowed us to get an opportunity at the district title.”
McDonald and Kolakovich (12 points) led the team in Friday’s championship, while Nash led the Spartans with 14.
Cros-Lex (21-3) advances to the Region 16 Semifinal on Monday at 5:30 against Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (11-13). This year’s regional features the same four teams as last season, as Richmond (22-2) will take on Goodrich (20-4) at 7 p.m.
Both games are set to take place in Imlay City. Get tickets.
“We’re excited to play in a regional game again and we’re going to work hard to prepare for that game and do our best,” Kolakovich said. “I think our hard work at practice every day and all the hours we’ve put in is what sets us apart.”
For in-game updates and other news, follow Calli on Twitter @ newberry_calli
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