Edison Brings Another Title to PSL

March 24, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – Perseverance and patience anchored the explanation as pride in the Detroit Public School League flowed Saturday evening at the Breslin Center.

The great majority of the conference’s nearly 30 MHSAA boys basketball championships have been won over the years in Class A. Most of the league’s schools lately have played in Class A and B.

And from Class C this weekend emerged the latest PSL champion, Detroit Edison, which entered the postseason with a .500 record but more than ready to run after  weathering a regular-season schedule loaded with larger opponents.

Edison completed its first MHSAA title run with a 53-38 win over Maple City Glen Lake, the Pioneers’ 12th victory over its final 13 games this winter.

“We didn’t struggle the whole year. We played in the toughest league, the PSL,” Edison senior Pierre Mitchell, Jr., said. “We won the PSL championship; the state run was a little easier than the PSL playoffs. We just had to click at the right time.”

Edison (17-10) became the fourth team to enter the playoffs with a record of .500 or worse and win an MHSAA boys basketball title, joining 1933 Grand Haven and 1967 Menominee in Class B and 1969 Marquette Baraga in Class D. The Pioneers also became the third to enter with double-digit losses and win it all – Menominee was 6-10 (in part because of four forfeits) at the end of the 1967 regular season and finished 13-10, and Baraga was 8-10 in 1969 and finished 16-10.

Edison finished fourth during its regular season in the PSL’s East Division 1, which also included Class A Detroit East English and Martin Luther King, Class B Osborn and Class C Pershing. But the Pioneers won the PSL tournament title by beating Pershing plus Class A Cass Tech and Class B Mumford and Renaissance.

The early losses weren’t by design, of course, but Edison didn’t employ its full attack until late in the season to keep opponents from being able to scout everything that might be coming their way during the playoffs.

“To go 2-6 (in the league) was a big disappointment, but we always understood that everyone makes it to the playoffs,” Pioneers coach Brandon Neely said. “I was very optimistic that once we got into the playoffs, we were going to be a tough team.”

Glen Lake (24-3) was a formidable final opponent. The Northwest Conference co-champion led the first seven minutes Saturday and then most of the first three of the second half.

With 4:58 to go in the third quarter, Mitchell made a free throw to tie the score at 25-25 and then missed his second. Glen Lake senior forward Cade Peterson came down with the rebound – by also twisted his right ankle as his foot came down on the foot of an Edison player behind him.

Peterson left the game, and 20 seconds later Mitchell drilled a 3-pointer to give the Pioneers a 28-25 lead. Starting with his basket, they finished the period on a 14-6 run. Edison pushed the lead to double digits three minutes into the fourth quarter, even as Peterson returned to the floor.

“He does it all. He defends, he scores, he attacks, he rebounds at both ends, and he’s our leader on the floor,” Glen Lake coach Rich Ruelas said of Peterson, who finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. “When you take that away – and we’ve been resilient all year – obviously he’s pretty important to our team.

“Cade was our rock this year and just led us every step of the way. … He wants to win as badly as anyone I’ve ever met.”

Junior guard Xander Okerlund led the Lakers with 19 points and seven rebounds as they played in their first MHSAA championship game since 1996 and first ever in Class C and making all three previous Final appearances in Class D.

Mitchell finished with 17 points and three steals, making 6 of 12 shots from the floor. Senior guard Gary Solomon made 7 of 14 shots for 16 points to go with four steals. Senior center Deante Johnson and junior forward Brian Taylor, Jr., both had 10 points, Johnson with 11 rebounds and Taylor with three steals as well.

“We had a tough season, but these guys preserved and continued to dig in,” Neely said. “And it was very gratifying to see these guys reap the benefits of hard work. They’ve grown as men and they understand what it takes to get to the next level whether it’s in basketball, whether it’s in school, whatever needs to be done. These guys understand when you’re dedicated to something and commit yourself, you can be successful.”

Edison also became the fourth school to celebrate boys and girls MHSAA basketball championships during the same school year; the Pioneers' girls won their second straight Class C title last weekend. Edison joined the Detroit Country Day teams of 1989-90 and 1995-96, Flint Northern's teams of 1994-95 and Flint Northwestern's teams of 1983-84 and 1984-85 in that achievement. 

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Detroit Edison’s Deante Johnson approaches for a dunk during Saturday’s Class C Final at the Breslin Center. (Middle) Glen Lake’s Cade Peterson goes up for a shot while Edison’s Brian Taylor, Jr., defends. 

Ferndale Caps Winter Season with 1st Boys Hoops Title Since 1966

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com

March 25, 2023

EAST LANSING – One team was going to end a long championship drought in Saturday’s boys basketball Division 2 Final.

Ferndale’s was especially lengthy, and spanned more than five decades.

And now it is no longer.

The Eagles won their first Finals championship in 57 years with a 44-38 victory over Grand Rapids South Christian at Breslin Center.

Ferndale had last won a state title in 1966.

“The drought is over,” Eagles coach Juan Rickman said. “That’s big time, and the biggest part about making it down here was seeing how charged up the community was and the school was so charged up. It’s the greatest feeling to see how vested our community was in our success.”

Christopher Williams (13) tries to power past South Christian’s Sam Weiss (23) to the rim.Ferndale senior Christopher Williams led the way with 16 points and four rebounds.

“It feels great,” Williams said. “Especially since the past four years we’ve been to the same place and lost twice in a row to the same team, and now it feels like weight is lifted off my shoulders.

“We started off the season 1-5, and going till now we knew if we stayed together through adversity then we could do it. And it made it more impactful that it was our coach’s first state title, and that’s what we wanted to do.”

Added senior point guard Cameron Reed, who had a game-high seven assists: “It’s incredibly special. I wasn't born back then, my teammates weren’t born and my coaches weren’t born. It definitely rejuvenated the whole city and community.”

Ferndale led 8-4 at the end of the first quarter, and both teams shot poorly in the first half. The Eagles connected on a paltry 24 percent from the field, and South Christian on 35 percent of its attempts. Nate Brinks drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Sailors a 16-14 halftime lead. 

Junior guard Jake Vermaas opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer to make it 19-14, but Ferndale made a charge.

The Eagles sliced the deficit to one (25-24) on a 3-pointer by Trenton Ruth, and Cameron Reed tied it at 28-28 with an acrobatic layup.

“Our team was mentally strong, and I’m so proud of them for their accomplishment,” Rickman said. “Just so committed to the process and just being resilient.”

Cameron Reed (0) leads a break for the Eagles.An 8-2 spurt by Ferndale over the first three minutes of the fourth quarter made it 36-30.

“That was extremely important, and we always want to win the first four minutes,” Rickman said. “And we tried to open up the fourth quarter with what we call a kill; we want to get five straight stops and score on two or three of those possessions so we can build a lead. We did that fairly well against a good team.”

South Christian was attempting to win football and basketball Finals championships during the same school year, and was looking for its first basketball title since 2005.

“It was a really hard-fought game and I thought we played at our speed, but it got away from us a little bit,” first-year Sailors coach Taylor Johnson said.

“But it doesn’t take away from what we accomplished this year. We’ve been through it all, including three season-ending injuries, and to still make it to the state finals is an incredible feat.”

Senior Jacob DeHaan and Vermaas led the Sailors with 14 points apiece, while senior Sam Medendorp added seven points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Ferndale raises the Division 2 championship trophy Saturday night at Breslin Center. (Middle) Christopher Williams (13) tries to power past South Christian’s Sam Weiss (23) to the rim. (Below) Cameron Reed (0) leads a break for the Eagles.