Detroit Western finishes regular season unbeaten with a 58-49 victory over U-D
Detroit – If there were any doubt who the top team in the state was, Detroit Western settled that in the Operation Friendship title game against U-D Jesuit.
The final score was closer than the game actually was, but the Cowboys were able to take tame Cubs, 58-49, for the title.
The win was also Western coach Derrick McDowell’s second Operation Friendship title. He won one with Redford in 2006.
"This was special to me," said McDowell. "I like playing in these games, and this was very important for our team. U-D put up a good fight towards the end, and I’m always glad to get a win over a quality opponent.
"We could see them again in the state semifinals, so we have a lot of work to do."
Western (19-0) jumped out to an 18-6 lead and had U-D on its heels. The last time senior guard Josh McFolley played on his future home court at Calihan Hall, in the PSL final, he scored only three points. He made sure that didn’t happen against U-D.
McFolley scored nine points in the second quarter alone, including a 3-pointer that made the score 21-9 early in the second. McFolley struck again late in the quarter, reeling off four straight, to give him 16 points and Western a 37-23 lead at halftime.
"They couldn’t guard me today," McFolley laughed. "They had a good defense, I’ll give them credit for that, but they couldn’t stop me.
"But most importantly, this was a statement win for us. We have been talking about it since last week, and we definitely came out and made a statement against them."
In the third quarter, McFolley and U-D star guard Cassius Winston, had a few words. That’s because Winston had just hit a 3-pointer and was bringing his team back. His three cut the lead to 43-34 with 3:24 left in the third, putting Western on its heels. McFolley and Winston went at it, back and forth, with McFolley finishing with 21 points and Winston ending up with 27.
"I’ve been knowing Cassius since I was a little boy," McFolley said. "He’s always been a great player, and he showed that tonight.
"On that one shot, he looked at me and said ‘come on Josh, you know better than that’,” laughed McFolley.
U-D (17-3) got the lead down to seven, but Brailen Neely’s jumper in the lane iced the game with 41.4 remaining, pushing the lead back up at 57-47. Winston did all that he could to help his team, but Western was just too much defensively, offensively, and in the paint. Neely chipped in 15 points and Gerald Blackshear added 14 points and 15 rebounds.
"I thought we did a good job in the final moments on the game, but we didn’t do a good job of containing Cassius," McDowell said. "We let him roam free and get angles. And when he gets an angle on you, you’re done.
"But with our team, you are finally seeing the flow with Josh and everyone else. Josh and Gerald are both playing well off of each other. Brailen got a little tired today, but my guys are playing well."