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BOYS BASKETBALL: Pershing escapes another PSL disaster, with a 59-57 win over Renaissance

By: Branden Hunter, February 5, 2014, 12:19 am

DETROIT – Anytime a team plays Pershing, you can bet that they will bring their "A" game. The Doughboys have always been one of best programs in the state and beating them is always a big thing.

Renaissance almost pulled off the upset of Pershing, but a last second 3-pointer by sophomore Alaric Jackson bounced off the rim. The Doughboys would escape with a 59-57 win, in another Detroit PSL battle.

"Everybody gives us their best shot every game," Pershing coach Wydell Henry said. "We get no nights off and everybody plays Pershing tough, because we’re like their Super Bowl."

Pershing (13-2, 8-1) led throughout the first half, but could never build up a big lead on Renaissance. And whenever they did build a nice lead, the Phoenix would come storming back. 

Senior Darsean Woodson’s basket with 1:38 to go in the third put Pershing up 52-43, their largest lead of the second half. But that didn’t matter as soon as the fourth quarter began.

"They gave us a good run today," Woodson said. "But we came out on top and it’s playoff time now."

Arguably the most improved team this year in the PSL at 11-2 coming into the game, Renaissance would not go away easily. 

Consecutive baskets by Justin Turner and Corey Wheeler made the score 55-52, with 3:29 left in te game. Turner was terrific on the day, leading Renaissance with 19 points, five rebounds and four assists.

"This loss was very tough for us," he said. "We came in expecting to win, but I rather have us learn from this lost now before playoffs start."

Seniors stepped up for Pershing, on which was ironically senior night. With 2:53 left in the game, Kam Barden snatched down the offensive rebound and went back up with it, to put Pershing up 57-52.

Turner showed why he is one of the top sophomore in the state, hitting a leaning jump shot with 2:08 to go, to pull the Phoenix within one, at 57-56. Kevin Clemons would later make one of two free throws, to tie the game at 57-57, with 1:34 remaining.

"We played terrible today," Henry said. "No disrespect to the other team, but that was terrible.

We don’t play well at home and we didn’t play well together today. We have to play better together, or we will be going home early."

Woodson finished with 10 points, but the most important ones came with 3.8 seconds left in the game. Woodson had his defender isolated, drove left and hit the go-ahead lay-up, to give Pershing the 59-57 lead for good.

"The only thing on my mind was to score and go get the win as I was told to," he said. "We have to be more aggressive coming out & finishing these games strong."

Unsurprisingly, Pershing senior Justin Tillman had himself another great game, with 25 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks. Corey Wheeler added 13 points and six rebounds for Renaissance.

The league playoffs begin Friday and Renaissance (11-3, 6-3) has just as good of a chance of winning it all, as any other team. But first they have to make free throws. They missed a whopping 18 on the day, losing by just two points.

"We have to focus on free throws more," Turner said. "We missed 18 of them. We make them, we win the game."