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Detroit Western wins first PSL Title since 1922 with one-point win over Renaissance

By: Tom Markowski, February 20, 2015, 11:21 pm

Detroit – It’s been 93 years since Detroit Western won a Detroit Public School League basketball title. And if Justin Turner had made an open 13-footer Western would likely have had to wait at least another year to celebrate.

Western (17-0), ranked No. 1 all season, was pushed to the limit by a young Detroit Renaissance team. Renaissance led most of the game but the fourth quarter belonged to the Cowboys and Western defeated Renaissance 46-45 on Friday at Calihan Hall.

The last time Western won the title was 1922.

“It’s good but it’s been a grind,” Western coach Derrick McDowell said. ”The weeks seemed like years. It’s been the buildup. I haven’t been here since 2005 (as coach at Detroit Redford). We were expected to win.”

Renaissance (11-7) played loose and took the game to Western. The Phoenix led 24-23 at halftime and 37-36 at the end of the third quarter.

That’s when Western turned up the pressure.

Depth and defense have been staples for Western all season, and the fourth quarter was a microcosm.

Armanti Tinsley, a reserve junior guard, got his first two rebounds of the game to start the quarter and he converted both into baskets for a 40-37 lead.

Josh McFolley’s steal resulted in a two-shot foul and he made both free throws to give Western a 44-40 lead with 4:23 left.

Darryl Smith, the lone senior in Renaissance’s starting lineup, made his second 3-pointer of the quarter to pull the Phoenix to within 44-43 with 4:06 left.

Western took a 46-43 lead when Brailen Neely stole the ball from Turner and scored with 2:24 left.

Turner’s put-back with 34 seconds left made it a one-point game.

Renaissance had a chance to take the lead when Alaric Jackson stole an errant pass and eight second later coach Vito Jordan called time out with 18.5 seconds remaining.

 Western had three fouls before Renaissance had the bonus and the Cowboys used two. With 9.9 seconds left Renaissance inbounded and Turner missed a 13-footer in the lane. Gerald Blackshear got his 12th rebound for Western and was fouled with 5.3 seconds left. Blackshear missed and Renaissance had one more chance. Smith’s 40-footer hit the rim and bounced off as time expired.

“He just happened to get open,” Jordan said of Turner. “It didn’t go in.

“We’ve got a good team. I can’t take any solace (in coming close). We’re a different team than we were.”

Turner and Smith led Renaissance with 12 points apiece, and freshman Jalen Tobias had 11 rebounds.

For Western Neely had 14 points and Blackshear had seven points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.

Both teams committed few turnovers. In the first half there were three total. Renaissance committed four of its seven turnovers in that fateful fourth quarter and Western had eight.

McDowell used four players to defend Turner, who at 6-3 is one of the state’s top juniors. Karim Murray started out on Turner and held him to three points in the first half. Neely, a 6-foot junior, had that assignment late and showed his coach he could handle a taller player.

McDowell said Neely “begged” him to guard Turner.

“Coach wouldn’t let me guard their best player because I’d exert too much energy,” Neely said. “Coach always talked about how Redford accomplished things. It’s an extreme honor to win tonight.”

McDowell coached Redford to three PSL titles, the last in ’05.