The Detroit King seniors looked down the Detroit Douglass bench and saw a familiar face: Pierre Brooks, their coach until George Ward, who coached Detroit Southeastern to state finals in 2011 and 2013, took over two years ago.
With their Detroit PSL quarterfinal in the balance with 2:33 left Tuesday at Cass Tech, Ward told his team: “This is all about mental toughness. It’s all about execution now. Are you ready to be a champion?”
King was on this day, going on a 15-0 run and holding the Hurricanes scoreless over the final 3 minutes to advance to the semifinals with a 58-44 victory.
Junior guard Jesse Scarber was the defensive hero with three steals in the fourth.
“We had to step up our defense,” Scarber said. “They were doing well the whole game.”
Said Ward: “We faced adversity all season long. They’re learning how to win. We’re pretty young. Pierre and his staff did an outstanding job of having his kids prepared. We knew we might have an advantage down the stretch because our guard play is solid — having two point guards on the floor. We went to 3-2 zone and the kids executed.
“When we got the program two years ago, we knew Jesse could lead the program. We knew he was a key with his moxie, toughness and speed. I told him in the fourth, ‘Listen, you haven’t put your imprint on this game yet.’ I knew he would at some point. We didn’t want him to wait too long.”
Masceo McCadney led King (11-6) with 21 points, and Scarber chipped in 14.
The Hurricanes (9-7) quickly erased a 27-22 halftime deficit, and led briefly in the third quarter on a three-pointer by James Smith III (17 points). Jarnard Smith Jr. also gave Douglass a 40-38 lead with 6:50 left, but McCadney led a run that gave King the lead for good with 3:08 remaining.
■Renaissance 57, CMA 45: The Phoenix (14-2) had to withstand the elite shooting of DaMonte Jones, a 5-foot-7 guard, to advance to the semifinals Friday against King.
Tied at 43, the Phoenix, led by Justin Turner, went on a 9-0 run to seal the victory.
“We had three seniors out there and a junior who started last year, so that experience should help,” Phoenix coach Vito Jordan said. “Justin always plays well at both ends. He shoots the ball, rebounds the ball and defends. If we want to reach our goal, he has to do that.”
Turner scored 17 for Renaissance. Chandler Turner added 11.
CMA’s three-point shooting kept it in the game. Jones hit three triples in the second quarter, helping close a nine-point deficit to 29-25 by halftime with the help of four points from Jalen Young.
Jones scored 18 points on six three-pointers.
“That was disappointing because we know what he does well and we didn’t stop him,” Jordan said.
Jones’ fifth three-pointer cut the Phoenix lead to 40-37. His sixth trimmed Renaissance’s lead to 41-40 with 5 minutes left.
Contact Perry A. Farrell: 313-222-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @farrellperry.
PSL boys playoffs
All games at Cass Tech
King 58, Douglass 44
Renaissance 57, CMA 45
Western vs. College Prep-Northwestern, 5
Henry Ford vs. East English, 7
King vs. Renaissance, 5
Today’s winners, 7
Note: Calihan Hall will host the championships Feb. 19. The girls final between King and Renaissance will be at 5; the boys will be at 7.