In Play with Tom Markowski

Boys Basketball, a look back and forward: Western first PSL team to win title since 2009; Godwin Heights wins first title

Basketball   | Tom Markowski

State Champs! Sports Network

East Lansing – At least for one season the ultimate prize of winning a state title swung to the Detroit area, specifically the Detroit Public School League, in 2015.

Detroit Western won the school’s first state title on Saturday and the PSL’s first since Detroit Pershing won the Class A title in 2009.

Western (26-0) didn’t have a particularly tough road to the semifinals but once there the Cowboys had to defeat two teams it had defeated earlier in the season. It’s not always easy to do this especially against quality teams like U-D Jesuit and Saginaw Arthur Hill.

 Western’s 55-46 semifinal victory over U-D was an ugly game. There were 47 fouls called and neither team shot well. Western shot 39.3 percent (11-28) from the free throw line and U-D was 1-for-17 (5.9 percent) from the 3-point range. This isn’t unusual. Many times when teams are familiar with each other offenses struggle.

Western’s 62-59 victory over Arthur Hill in the final was more entertaining. Western trailed 25-21 at halftime then scored 20 points in the third quarter to take a 41-34 lead.

Western’s top two scorers, Josh McFolley (19 points) and Gerald Blackshear, teamed for 35 points after having just nine between them in the first half.

Looking ahead to next season the teams Western defeated at the Breslin Center will be expected to be two of the state’s best.

U-D returns eight of its top nine players including Cassius Winston, the frontrunner for the 2016 Mr. Basketball award.

Arthur Hill returns six of its top eight including Brian Bowen, the frontrunner for the 2017 Mr. Basketball award.

Other teams to look for in Class A next season is Detroit East English Village Prep, which lost to Western in a regional semifinal, Detroit Renaissance, Clarkston, Kalamazoo Central, Macomb Dakota, Western and East Lansing.

 

In Class B Wyoming Godwin Heights (26-1) won its last 18 games and won the school’s first state title. The Wolverines return three starters but, like Western, must replace two of its best players in Michael Williams and Delaney Blaylock.

Detroit Henry Ford reached its first final and though it loses Josh Davis (Western Michigan) the Trojans return just everybody else including one of the city’s top point guards in James Towns.

Milan is expected to take a step back with the graduation of Nick Perkins and Latin Davis. New Haven, which lost to Henry Ford in a quarterfinal, should be formidable again.

And an early favorite to win Class C is Flint Beecher. The Bucs dominated this class this season (closest tournament game was 78-60 over Southfield Christian) and they return six of their top nine players.