Detroit Western cruises past Henry Ford behind Neely's 21 pointsBasketball  |
Detroit – Throughout much of the past week, much has been made about the incoming transfers to Detroit Western, and for good reason.
But on Tuesday afternoon, it was the original core players at Western that stole the show.
Led by 21 points from Brailen Neely, top-ranked Western built a 19-point halftime lead and cruised to a convincing 72-55 win over the No. 5-ranked team in Class B, Detroit Henry Ford at Western.
Western (11-0, 7-0) clinched first place in the the Detroit Pubic School League West Division 1 with the victory nd will have one of the two top seeds when the playoffs begin Feb. 6.
Henry Ford (10-3, 4-3) can clinch second place in the West with a victory over Detroit King on Friday at Henry Ford.
Western coach Derrick McDowell said that the additions of Mt. Clemens transfers Josh McFolley and Gerald Blackshear, who debuted for the Cowboys on Friday, are welcome additions to his team, but he still expects the core players, who led Western to a 9-0 start, to step up when they need to.
“I’m very confident with the core group of players that we had,” he said. “McFolley and Blackshear add to what we had, but they’re not all of what we have. It’s not make or break with Blackshear or McFolley, the guys that played today played well and I expect them to play well.”
With Western holding a 21-16 lead early in the first quarter, the Cowboys began putting some separation between themselves and Henry Ford, as a 3-pointer from Neely kicked off a 19-6 run to close out the half.
After Neely’s 3-pointer, Armanti Tinsley knocked down a 3-pointer of his own and snared the inbound pass, which set up another triple, this time coming from Kyree Boynton to push the Western lead to 27-16.
“We knew in the first half, it wasn’t over,” said Neely of Western’s big run to close out the half. “We knew they were going to make a run and we wanted to sustain their run and we slowed it down so they wouldn’t have a lot of opportunities and we just wanted to maintain through our run.”
Western then closed out the half with back-to-back 3-pointers from Neely and a basket from Jaye Patrick as the Cowboys held a 39-20 lead at the break.
Henry Ford started fast in the second half as it managed to trim the deficit down to 14 with 3:30 left to play in the third quarter after back-to-back baskets from Alston Hunter.
The Trojans then trimmed the Western lead down to 12 after a dunk by Western Michigan-commit Josh Davis.
But the Cowboys would then rebuild its lead as a basket from Kareem Murray late in the third quarter and eight points from Neely and two more from Tinsley early in the fourth quarter built the Western lead back to 18.
McDowell credited his team’s depth for overcoming the run by Henry Ford, adding that teams overcoming large deficits against Western use plenty of energy, while his team’s deep rotation keeps the Cowboys playing with energy consistentl.
“The simple fact is that over a long period of time, there’s not many high school teams that can play with us,” he said. “Especially being down (double digits), because you have to spend so much energy, they’re not able to continue that because they’re not that deep.”