In Play with Tom Markowski

Josh Davis hits wininng free throws with 21.2 left as Henry Ford gets past CMA, 52-45, in district semifinal

Basketball   | Tom Markowski

Josh Davis hits wininng free throws with 21.2 left as Henry Ford gets past CMA, 52-45, in district semifinal

Livonia – Coach Ken Flowers rarely has his teams use a zone defense. It’s just not his style.

But in certain situation coaches need to change their basic philosophy and show flexibility. Flowers did that in the third quarter on Wednesday and Detroit Henry Ford, ranked No. 6 in Class B, survived a scare from Detroit Communication and Media Arts and advanced to Friday’s district final.

Josh Davis’ two free throws with 21.2 seconds left gave Henry Ford a 46-44 lead and his four throws in the final 9.3 seconds iced the Trojans’ 52-45 victory over CMA in a district semifinal at Livonia Clarenceville.

Henry Ford (16-5) will play Detroit Community (12-4) for the title on Friday at 6 p.m.

Community, a state finalist in 2013, defeated Southfield Bradford Academy 61-41 in the other semifinal. James Jenkins (16 points) and Demario Turner teamed for 30 points for Community.

Demonte Jones’ 3-pointer gave CMA (14-6) a 5-4 lead with 6:05 left in the first quarter and the Pharaohs held the lead until Jeremy Crawley’s two free throws put the Trojans in front, 33-32, with 3:05 left in the third quarter.

CMA never led again.

CMA coach Rafeal Peterson prefers to slow the pace down. It’s not uncommon for the Pharaohs to pass the ball 10-to-15 times on a possession before attempting a shot. The strategy worked. The Pharaohs nearly pulled off the upset.

Flowers’ switch from a man-to-man to a zone defense had much to do with the outcome.

CMA led 24-23 at halftime and John Phillips made consecutive baskets to increase the Pharaohs lead to 32-27 with 5:02 left in the third.

That’s when Henry Ford went to a zone and CMA went scoreless for more than seven minutes. The Trojans ended the quarter on a 13-0 run with Davis sinking a 3-pointer from the left corner at the buzzer.

“It was their style of play,” Flowers said. “They don’t shoot the ball that well. They only have one guy (Jones) who can shoot the three. Clarenceville ran a zone against them on Monday and did well. We like to man up, jump out on the guys. But we mixed it up. I had that zone. I just waited for the right time.”

But CMA made its adjustments. Peterson had Jones (14 points) come off of a few screens and made consecutive jumpers, one a 3-pointer, to pull CMU to within 42-37. Jalen Hairston’s basket and two free throws made it a one-point game with 3:45 left and a basket by Hairston (15 points) tied the game at 44-44 with 34 seconds left.

Davis and his teammates put the game away at the free throw line as Henry Ford made all 10 of its free throw attempts in the fourth quarter and was 21-of-23 for the game.

Davis, who signed with Western Michigan and was recently named Mr. PSL, led the Trojans with 17 points and Antaun Carter added 11.

“We struggled with our shots early,” Davis said. “And we had to learn to switch on defense. (Jones) was knocking down shots. We don’t take any team lightly. This is my last year. I didn’t want to see it end tonight.

“I want the ball in my hands with the game on the line.”

As well he should. Davis was 9-for-9 form the line, and six came in the final 21.2 seconds.