Little Caesars Arena, the new home of the Detroit Pistons and Detroit Red Wings, is a dream for young athletes of Detroit who wish to one day show their own skills there. On Dec. 8, the Cristo Rey Wolves Varsity Basketball team lived that dream when they got the chance to play against the Riverview Gabriel Richard Pioneers at the arena.
For months the team put in the work: going to practice five to six days per week, conditioning, scrimmaging, strategizing and repeating drills. With the help of Head Coach and Athletic Director Brandon Peoples, Coach Isaac Everette, and Coach William Shelton, the team built up excitement for students, faculty and staff.
Principal Susan Rowe was eager to see the team display their talent and was confident in their abilities.
”I have been excited for Cristo Rey basketball ever since the first day,” said Rowe. “I think this year's team can surpass any competition we face.”
On game day, Detroit Cristo Rey erupted with excitement from those who were attending the game and frustration from those who weren’t able to go. At 10 a.m., students and faculty who purchased a ticket took a bus to the arena, while the rest stayed at school to watch the game live.
As everyone arrived, they were in for a surprise as defending NBA champions the Golden State Warriors were practicing.Big names such as Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant practiced as students and staff watched from the sidelines. Students also got a close up of Golden State manager Steve Kerr. Around 11:30a.m. the Wolves and the Pioneers, which hold a four-year rivalry, arrived on the court.
As the game started, it was clear the teams were evenly matched, with the Wolves taking a small lead in the first quarter. The rest of the game was constantly back and forth, and there was very effective play-making by Gabriel Richard and Cristo Rey. Cristo Rey found leadership in senior Sam Stewart and had effective playmaking by players like Angel Jaramillo, Demond Taylor, Jaylen Woodley and many others.
In the final quarter, Cristo Rey was down by one point when Sam Stewart tied the score by making a free throw in the final minute. The game went into overtime and the teams once again were neck and neck.
With three minutes left of overtime, Cristo Rey was down by two points when one of their players took a hard fall. Medical attention was summoned and eventually got the Cristo Rey player off the court.
Due to a time limit, the rest of the game was suspended and Gabriel Richard was announced as the winner; however, a final decision will be determined by the Catholic League.
Students and staff agreed the game was worth all the hype, with two rival teams facing off in a game that felt like a championship match up. Student athletes from both schools got the chance of a lifetime to feel like NBA all stars, as they showed off their individual and team talents at Little Caesars Arena.
Angel Jaramillo, one of the team's best shooters, said just playing at the arena was exciting.
“It was a blessing and electrifying and I had my blood pumping," said Jaramillo.
The sharpshooting junior said he was motivated by his teammates throughout the game.
“We take it to the heart when we face these big rivals like Gabriel Richard and my teammates helped motivate me to keep me in the game," he said.
Detroit Cristo Rey continues to build off all they have learned and will be ready for each match up in future games. According to Principal Rowe, this is possible because of the “winning spirit that is the Cristo Rey way.”