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Brother Rice outlasts St. Mary's in CHSL opener WITH PHOTO GALLERY AND VIDEOS

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ORCHARD LAKE – Birmingham Brother Rice head boys basketball coach Ed Shaffer knew that Tuesday’s Catholic League opener was just that – a league opener – and that there were plenty of games left no matter what happened at the gym of rival Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.

But in spite of the understandable approach that it’s far too early for one game to make or break a season, it didn’t mean the contest didn’t have special meaning to Shaffer and the Warriors.

“We talked about using this game as an arrival,” Shaffer said. “We don’t feel like a lot of people are talking about us. We know we can be pretty good.”

The coming weeks will tell how much Brother Rice has arrived, but the Warriors are certainly off to a good start in their quest for respect after grinding out a 49-45 win over St. Mary’s in a CHSL Central Division opener for both.

The Warriors are now 5-1 to open the season, with their only loss being to No. 3-ranked East Kentwood.

Brother Rice led for most of the game, and seemed to be on the verge of putting St. Mary’s away when it took a 38-31 lead with 5:38 remaining.

Predictably though, St. Mary’s wouldn’t go away on its floor, rallying to take a 45-44 lead with 1:54 remaining and three free throws by sophomore C.J. Wilson.

But the Warriors were the stronger team from there, starting when senior Kevin Hayes drained a pair of free throws to give Brother Rice a 46-45 lead with 1:28 remaining.

Some furious offensive rebounding by St. Mary’s on its next possession led to senior Jason Boswell being fouled with 33.7 seconds remaining, but he couldn’t connect on either of the two free throws and Brother Rice rebounded the ball.

The Warriors eventually put it in the hands of senior Dominic Downs, who drained a pair of free throws with 21.7 seconds to make it 48-45 Brother Rice.

St. Mary’s had one last chance to tie, but a 3-pointer by Boswell from the top of the key rimmed out and Brother Rice senior Davis Feldman hit a free throw with 4.9 seconds remaining to cap off Brother Rice’s 5-0 run to end the game.

“We’ve got seniors,” Shaffer said. “Most of the seniors played a lot last year as juniors. They played like seniors.”

Hayes finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, senior Drew Gallagher had 11 points and Downs added 10 points to lead the Warriors.

Boswell scored a game-high 17 points and Wilson scored 13 points for St. Mary’s, which fell to 3-3 and 0-1.

A big difference in the game was at the free-throw line, where Brother Rice was 15 of 19 and St. Mary’s 6 of 12.

“They just kept us off-balance a little bit,” St. Mary’s head coach George Porritt said. “They shot a little bit better than we did. We didn’t shoot it very good tonight. We are not the biggest team, so we have to battle for everything we get.”

Last Updated: 1/6/2015 11:44:13 PM EST

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