Sunday, March 1, 2009

Detroit Championship In Name Only

The marquee matchup in Sunday's Catholic League championship was a cross-county pairing that 50 years ago could have been the stunt double for the city's public school East & West divisions.

De LaSalle outlasted Catholic Central by a 51-44 count to earn their first Catholic League crown since the 2001-02 season. Both schools used to be Catholic mainstays in the Detroit proper, but like so many other things, while the city has hollowed out, the suburbs have flourished and today's Catholic League is best represented in the 'burbs.

Five decades ago, it would have been unfathomable to image a De LaSalle - Catholic Central having an Oakland - Macomb edge to it, but as unimaginable as that might have been, that the Catholic League finals would be played without a full house is equally shocking.

Of course, it has nothing to do with the game being better or worse, or the economy. High school sports simply don't command the same crowds they used to. That's an across the board statement that applies at public and private schools, big and small, in affluent and working class communities alike.

De LaSalle's win means the Pilots will play the role of underdog in the upcoming Operation Friendship championship game this upcoming Saturday at Cass Tech High. De LaSalle will play the top-ranked Pershing Doughboys, while runner-up C.C. will face Southeastern's Jungaleers.

SCORE CONTROVERSY? Many members of the working press had recorded the final score as 51-44 when the final buzzer sounded in the A-B Division championship. The final was announced as 52-44 and never changed during the trophy presentations. Catholic Central's book, the Catholic League's official book and De LaSalle scorekeeper Mike Szatkowski concurred on the official tally of 51 points for De LaSalle.

~ T.C. Cameron is the author of Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries, released August 2008 from Arcadia Publishing. Cameron's 2nd title, Metro Detroit's High School Basketball Rivalries features the compelling stories from 60 years of Oakland County games and will be available in August of this year.

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