BBALL: Romulus Avenges early season loss to Pershing with 93-91 in State Quarterfinals
DETROIT – All season long Romulus (25-1) has been regarded as the second basketball best team in the state behind #1 Pershing (25-0) and deservingly so. Pershing defeated Romulus earlier in the season 83-76 and a rematch in the state playoffs awaited both teams to settle the matter.
Further clouding the re-match was the status of Romulus’ star guard Wes Clark, who was a game time decision due to a knee injury. "I wasn’t even sure if I could go", said Clark. "But I knew that if I did I was going to leave it all on the floor".
Clark got off to a slow start with just three points at the half, but teammate E.C. Matthews shouldered most of the load for Romulus in the first half. Matthews scored 11 of his game high 29 points in the first quarter to give Romulus the 23-21 lead after one quarter. The game was somewhat reminiscent of Romulus’ 67-62 win over Pershing in last years state quarterfinal: both teams took a 41 all tie into halftime, and both teams kept the game close in the 3rd.
Romulus looked it would take control of the game when E.C. Matthews scored a basket to put them up 68-62 with :38 seconds left in the third quarter. But on Pershing’s ensuing possesision, Lorenzo Collier hit a huge three with :15 seconds remaining in the 3rd quarter to pull Pershing back within three at 68-65.
"Last season we celebrated too early after a quarterfinal, and didn’t complete our goal of winning a state title ", said Romulus head coach Nate Oats.
Both teams traded leads four times in the last two minutes of the game, until Romulus took the lead for good. Down 88-87 after a Kahlil Felder score (28 points, 6 assists) put Pershing ahead one, Wes Clark (17 points) found Jalon Plummer wide open in the corner for a three pointer that put Romulus ahead 90-88 with 1:00.remaining in the contest.
"It was huge, and I just wanted to win the game for my team", said Plummer. "I didn’t want my team to go home today, so I wanted to have a great game and be a leader".
Pershing had an opportunity to tie the game at 90-90 but Darsean Woodson missed the second of two free throws, forcing the Doughboys to foul the remainder of the game. E.C. Matthews would miss a crucial free throw of his own with :2.3 seconds to go and the Eagles up two, but a last second attempt by Felder was missed and Romulus pulled out the 93-91 victory.
Romulus will now face Grand Rapids Christian in the Class A semifinals Friday afternoon at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.