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BEST OF MICHIGAN: No. 8 Detroit Renaissance turns up the pressure to beat No. 5 East Kentwood

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, December 15, 2019, 3:49 am

BELLEVILLE — When you graduate a pair of college-caliber guards, people are going to test your ability to handle pressure. 

Especially if that’s their M.O., anyway.

Ranked No. 8 on the STATE CHAMPS! Initial top 25 list, Detroit Renaissance turned up the pressure on No. 5 East Kentwood, forcing 28 turnovers in Saturday’s game at the LBI Best of Michigan Holiday Classic, scoring 30 points off those turnovers, and holding on for a 49-47 win.

Last year, the Falcons had Mauriya Barnes (Aquinas) and Alona Blackwell (Oakland) in the backcourt along with Alexis McCully, sharing the load of breaking pressure. The Falcons (2-1) don’t have that luxury this year, relying on youngsters to support McCully in handling the ball.

Renaissance (3-0) jumped out to a 17-10 lead, but East Kentwood outscored the Phoenix 12-4 in the second quarter to lead 22-21 at the half. Renaissance took a 37-31 lead into the fourth, and led by nine with 4:29 left, but the Falcons got it back to a one-possession game in the final seconds. 

Keliese Christopher scored a free throw and got the follow-up bucket to go with two seconds remaining to cut the deficit to two, but the Phoenix were able to get the ball the length of the floor before the Falcons could foul. East Kentwood only got off a three-quarter-court heave at the buzzer after the Phoenix missed the front end of a one-and-one.

Christopher led the Falcons with 13 points, adding seven rebounds, while McCully (12 rebounds) and Deyonce Thompson had 12 points each. Mikyah Finley and Taylor Anderson had 12 points each to lead Renaissance, while Kailee Davis had 10 points and five steals. Shannon Wheeler had nine points and 10 rebounds.