Edison rebounds from slow start, repeats as Class C champions with a 51-34 victory over Arbor Prep
Grand Rapids - Considering the dire circumstances, it was probably the most impressive nine minutes of the year for Detroit Edison.
The Pioneers struggled in the first quarter of Saturday's Class C championship game against a team they had already lost to during the regular reason. But what followed was later described by coaches and players as the best nine minutes of the season.
They were certainly the most important nine minutes.
That stretch led top-ranked Edison (24-1) to a 51-34 victory over Ypsilanti Arbor Prep and a repeat of its state championship at Calvin College's Van Noord Arena.
Down 15-12 with five and a half minutes left in the first quarter, the Pioneers put together a dominating 28-7 run that pushed them into a 40-22 lead with just over three minutes left in the third quarter.
The reason for the complete turnaround? It was a pressure defense that led to a flood of easy shots, Edison coach Monique Brown said.
"We came out kind of sluggish," said Brown, whose team lost to Arbor Prep 54-49 in the seventh game of the season. "That (stretch) was probably the best we've played. We always try to score off our defense and we were able to do that. In the first game, we got turnovers but we also turned the ball over too much."
Edison was actually outscored 12-11 the rest of the way, making the run even more important. Edison sophomore guard Gabrielle Elliott said the nine-minute stretch was as good as the team has played.
"Honestly, I think so," said Elliott, who finished with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting. "We got together and talked it out and came together as a team. That's what we do."
Edison forced 20 turnovers and limited Arbor Prep (21-6) to just 18 percent (8-44) from the floor. Edison scored 28 of its points off of turnovers.
Such pressure defense came as no surprise to first-year Arbor Prep coach Scott Stine.
"We never got into a rhythm," he said. "They are regarded as the best team in the state and you've got to play a great game to beat them. The difference in the first half was we didn't finish our defensive sequence by rebounding. They'd make a basket, they would get into their pressure and that would lead to easy baskets."
Brown said at least part of the slow start could have been thinking about the regular season loss to Arbor Prep. The Pioneers never led until a 17-16 edge with 4:28 left in the first half.
"There were a lot of nerves. We knew they were the only team that had beaten us. That was kind of sitting with us," Brown said. "We had a game plan and it's natural for us to apply pressure, but we weren't finishing things off. Today we knew we had to apply pressure to finish it off."
Junior forward Rickea Jackson had 16 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and four steals for Edison, which held a 46-39 advantage in rebounds and committed only 11 turnovers.
Arbor Prep senior guard Lasha Petree had 19 points. The rest of the team could hit only two of its 26 shots.
"We came in and everyone was a little sluggish," said Edison's Shaulana Wagner, who came off the bench to contribute eight points and five steals. "It starts with point guards and I brought an intensity in. I'm very important when I come off the bench. I hype them up, don't get rattled and help with the intensity."
Brown said one of the differences between the two state champion teams is the experience.
"There is definitely maturity and fighting through adversity," she said. "Last year we were not able to do that at times. But I think our tough schedule this year prepared us for this."