Detroit King beats Detroit Pershing, wins first PSL boys basketball championship in nine years
Detroit – Detroit Martin Luther King defeated Detroit Pershing 56-48 on Saturday to win the Detroit Public School League championship for the first time since 2012.
King hadn’t won a PSL championship since defeating Pershing in 2012, and most recently appeared in a championship game in 2017 when he lost to Cass Tech. Pershing last won the championship in 2014 and last faced Detroit Edison in 2018.
Cass Tech, the defending PSL champion and winner of three of the last four title games, did not participate in the tournament due to COVID-19.
Detroit King coach George Ward said he was proud of his team and spoke with high expectations about how they performed throughout the season.
“To know where these young men came from, to know they weren’t the best basketball team, the best players that got into high school… to go undefeated in the Public School League and a goal on all season Having your back is a special feeling, I’m just proud of it, ”said Ward
Both teams struggled to take shots in the first quarter as each team decided to attack the rim and had little success.
Chansey Willis had a great first quarter for King, scoring nine of his 12 points in the first quarter to help his team stay one point ahead.
Pershing had a nightmare of a second quarter, faced a seven-minute drought and only one scored field goal and walked three out of six at the free throw line in the entire quarter.
King ended the run in a big way in the second quarter when Davin Walker deployed a long 3-pointer to give King a 30-16 lead at halftime. He posed a few feet from the 3-point line and celebrated with a teammate. Walker scored nine of his 16 points this quarter.
Pershing’s free throw problems were so evident that head coach Shawn Hill let his team train them while he warmed up for the second half.
Pershing came back strong in the third with Tharren “Squally” Hall 10 of Pershing’s 17 points in the quarter, followed by 37-31 when King called for a timeout with 51 seconds left. Ward gathered his team and had a simple message.
“Just calm down,” said Ward. “We got a little scared and I understand we wanted a knockout punch, so to speak, so I knew the importance of just coming back and settling down and doing what it took to take the lead first Place.”
With a lead of 39:33 over fourth place, it was Shannen Carter who came in for King in fourth place, scoring six points with three large blocks. One came on a 3-point attempt from Pershing, followed by another block from Omar Ziegler in a defensive sequence that showed King’s efforts throughout the game.
Pershing was unable to regain the momentum of the third run for another run. The teams exchanged free-throw attempts at the last minute, but Pershing never cut the lead to less than eight.
Ward was the fourth head coach to win a PSL championship and coach two different teams. He won as a Southeastern coach in 2011.
Ziegler had nine points for King. Hall scored 15 and Brian Woodland and Andrew Fuquay each had eight for Pershing.
Kameron Goodwill is a freelance writer.