From the opening tap, Detroit King coach William Winfield’s uptempo gameplan was on full display during the Detroit Public School League girls championship Friday at Calihan Hall.
Thus started the drive for five as King captured its fifth straight PSL title with an exciting 68-66 victory over Detroit Renaissance.
The outcome wasn’t decided until Renaissance senior Siyeh Frazier, who was brilliant with 37 points, missed a lay-up as time expired.
“I got the look I wanted; I just didn’t finish,” said Frazier, who was named Miss PSL after the game. “They’ve been here five years in a row. They were ready.”
Frazier had scored to get the Lady Phoenix to within 67-66. Alicia Norman then made one of two free throws, with the miss on her second giving Renaissance a chance to tie with 5.4 seconds left.
Twelve missed free throws and some untimely turnovers did in the Lady Phoenix (15-4).
King (16-1) pressed Renaissance from the start in an attempt to force the tempo with the goal of forcing turnovers and running whenever the opportunity presented itself.
“When we played them the first time, we only had six players so we had to put our hands in our pocket,” said Winfield. “We couldn’t press them the first time. A lot of times you do things out there and you don’t know what’s going to work. You keep mixing things up. We were able to keep them off-balance.”
King had lost to the Phoenix, 68-65, during the regular season so Winfield was going to throw everything he could at Renaissance defensively. The pressure defense worked in the first quarter as King shot out to a 26-17 lead with Tia Tedford and Micaela Kelly draining threes and point guard Norman racing to the basket.
Tedford was injured with 7:35 to play and had to leave the game before returning. She led the Crusaders with 18 points followed by Norman with 15 and Kelly 12.
“From the first game we learned that we had to play harder and smarter,” said Tedford. “We wanted it more. We came out here and showed what we had.”
Being there before was a plus for the Crusaders.
“Our inexperience showed,” said Renaissance coach Kiwan Ward. “We’ve been kind of short-handed bench-wise because we have a lot of youth. That’s why it’s hard for us to have a tremendous start because this is the first time for them.”
By the second quarter, King’s offense slowed down and the Phoenix, behind Frazier, crept back into the game. Two free throws by Frazier trimmed the deficit to 28-25. Later, three straight points by Brittany Hill had the Phoenix within one, 29-28.
The fast-paced first half ended with King on top, 36-34, despite 22 points from Frazier.
Renaissance’s first lead of the second half was 44-43 on a lay-up by Hill. From there it was a see-saw battle until King scored six straight points to take a 53-48 lead on a rebound basket by Jasmine Flowers.
Frazier’s only two points in the third reduced King’s lead to 53-50 at the end of three.
Contact Perry A. Farrell: 313-222-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @farrellperry.