In Play with Tom Markowski

East English rolls past Renaissance, 86-62, for PSL title

Basketball   | Tom Markowski

East English rolls past Renaissance, 86-62, for PSL title

(PHOTO CREDIT: Dave Donoher)

 

Detroit – Some have claimed, not the least of whom is coach George Ward at Detroit King, that no team, not even top-ranked U-D Jesuit, has more talent than Detroit East English Village Prep.

Those who watched the Bulldogs at Calihan Hall on Friday just might agree.

East English tore into Detroit Renaissance in the Detroit Public School League championship game ripping open what had been a close game in a near-flawless second quarter before coasting to an 86-62 victory.

It’s the school’s first basketball title.

Richard Talley’s 55-footer to end the first quarter was the only significant highlight for Renaissance. It tied the game at 17-17 and three minutes into the second quarter the game changed.

An Eric Elliott dunk ended an 8-0 run to give East English a 32-23 lead and the Bulldogs were off and running.

Elliott is a 6-3 junior who drew Michigan coach John Beilein to press row on this night.

Justin Turner’s 3-point play momentarily got the Phoenix back in it but it was fool’s gold. East English was beginning to play well.

During a 1:30 stretch East English forced three turnovers and made three 3-pointers, two by reserve Lamar Neely and the third by Elliott that gave the Bulldogs a 43-26 lead. They led 45-28 at halftime.

East English (16-3), ranked No. 6 in Class A, did not commit a turnover in the quarter and forced six. The Bulldogs were 11-of-19 from the field and held a 10-6 edge in rebounds.

Jaylin McFadden, who scored 20 points and led his team with 10 rebounds, said, as a team this was the best they’ve played all season.

“I don’t think, as a team, we played better,” he said. “Now, individually the guys had better games. Our mindset was it’s a championship game. We were all playing for a cause. Our coach (Juan Rickman) hyped us up. We wanted to win by 20. The coaches got us ready.”

The second half was more of the same. Renaissance scored just six points in the first 3:30. A Karmari Newman free throw gave the Bulldogs their largest lead, 65-37, with three minutes left in the third.

East English did not commit a turnover in the third and forced four. Two turnovers in three quarters for a PSL team is most uncommon.

Renaissance (15-3) took Detroit Western to the limit in last season’s PSL final before losing by two points. Many thought the Phoenix, ranked No. 8 coming in, were better this season.

One is tempted to ask, was this East English playing at a different level or was Renaissance just off its game creating a perfect storm?

“I don’t know if it’s more about them than us,” Renaissance coach Vito Jordan said. “We turned the ball over.

“When a team like that has firepower and we turn it over, it’s tough. They pounded the offensive glass. They were scrappy.

“They have ball handlers. They have shooters.”

And East English has experience. Four seniors start and Neely is also a senior. Add Elliott who’s one of the state’s top juniors and this team is built to win championships.

Newman, who many thought would win Mr. PSL (Brailen Neely of Detroit Western was named the winner before the game), led East English with 23 points. Elliott had 17 and Neely 12.

Turner scored 19 points and Talley added 16.

Trophy in hand, Rickman was not overly emotional. He disagreed with McFadden but it might have been a case of splitting hairs.

“We can enjoy it for the night,” Rickman said. “We played better against (Detroit) Cass Tech. Newman had 38 and didn’t play the fourth.

“The second quarter? It was one of our best. We wanted to force turnovers. The lack of depth on their part was a factor. Our press forced them to do something they weren’t accustomed to. Other guys had to handle it.

“(Turner) can kill you. We tried to deny him the ball; jump him.

“Talent? Well, it’s what we do. We do a lot of stuff. Skill development. People try to slow us down but it’s hard to do.”

For the record, East English defeated Cass Tech 87-52 on Jan. 19. Rickman was quick to point out Cass Tech was coming off of a big victory over Western, too.

Still, under the circumstances, few teams anywhere in the state could match what East English did on Friday.