In Play with Tom Markowski

Coach Steve Hall and senior Leonard Silas lead Cass Tech to first PSL title in 19 years

Basketball   | Tom Markowski

Coach Steve Hall and senior Leonard Silas lead Cass Tech to first PSL title in 19 years

 

Detroit – Leonard Silas wasn’t sure of his abilities two years ago as a sophomore. Thanks to Steve Hall and a re-dedication to the game, Silas has become the leader Hall had hoped he would become.

Cass Tech (16-3) hadn’t won a Detroit Public School League title since 1998 and last season the Technicians finished 11-10 in Hall’s first season back at his alma mater.

Things have changed at the downtown school. The Technicians are city champions.

Silas’ 3-pointer gave Cass Tech a 3-1 and the Technicians never trailed thereafter as they defeated their rival, Detroit King, 59-47, in the PSL final at Calihan Hall on Saturday.

Maybe Hall and Silas needed each other. Silas was looking for direction. Hall was searching for a point guard who could rely on.

Silas scored just 12 points but a number of his baskets came at critical times. His twisting, spinning layup in the half court just before the buzzer gave Cass Tech a 31-21 lead at halftime.

Silas opened the fourth quarter with a 3-point play that gave the Technicians a 43-36 lead. His cousin, Jesse Scarber, picked up his third foul on the play as this one play severed as a microcosm for the game.

Scarber, also a senior point guard, was considered the better player coming into the game by many. On this night, it was Silas who had the upper hand.

Scarber, King’s leading scorer, was held to three points.

“Coach Hall prepared us well for Scarber,” Silas said. “Without Jesse King isn’t that good.

“(This is) a big accomplishment. I’m a senior. It’s coach Hall who’s the difference. He believed in us. He gave us a lot of confidence. He gave me confidence to be a leader, in the classroom and on the court. I’ve been a better leader since he came.”

King (14-4) didn’t shoot well. Coach George Ward said his team had open shots but just couldn’t make them.

Some credit must go to Hall and his staff for this. Cass Tech switched defenses a number of times but the most effective was its zone trap in the half court.

King shot under 32 percent (15-of-47) from the field and didn’t shoot well from the free throw line as the Crusaders made just 14-of-26 (53.8 percent).

“We couldn’t make shots,” Ward said. “If we had a shot chart it would be amazing. I don’ think we took too many bad shots.”

Then Ward addressed the crux of the matter.

“(Scarber) is the one kid who has experience for us,” he said. “He’s the heartbeat. When he looks a little shaky it affects the other guys. The feel of the game may have been too big for us.”

Another Cass Tech senior, Michael Green, played well. He led the Technicians with 14 points, six in the fourth quarter.

Kemon Bassett scored 12 points and Treveon Orr had 11 points and six rebounds for King.

Hall reflected on his return to Cass Tech, a school where he was an all-state player and a 1988 graduate. Hall was an assistant coach in college (Duquesne and Youngstown State) before making it back to his home town.

“The fact that we haven’t won it in 20 (sic) years is what st4ands out,” he said. I feel good for the community and the school.

“As far as Leonard, that’s the same case when I was at (Detroit) Northwestern and I had Eric Evans. We lost a lot of close games his junior year. Leonard is unflappable. That’s been the key to the team.”

Hall led a similar resurgence when he went to Northwestern in the late 2000s. Northwestern won the PSL title in 2008, its first since 1978.