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Former Detroit Redford coaches McDowell and Flowers watch each other craft new stories with Detroit Western and Henry Ford

By: Jeff Dullack, March 29, 2015, 3:55 pm

East Lansing – Over the years, Derrick McDowell and Ken Flowers have told stories to teams about their time with Detroit Redford.

McDowell, the current head coach at Detroit Western, coached at Detroit Redford from 1992-2005 and led his team to the Class A Finals in 2002.

Flowers currently is the head coach at Detroit Henry Ford and played for McDowell from 1993-1996 and was an assistant coach on the 2002 team. Flowers took over as the head coach at Detroit Redford in 2006 and 2007 and guided his team to the state finals in 2007.

But the stories told to their teams from their Detroit Redford days will soon be joined with stories from Detroit Western and Detroit Henry Ford after Saturday.

With Flowers looking on during the Class A Final, McDowell directed his team to a 62-59 win over Saginaw Arthur Hill, winning Western’s first state championship in school history and his first title as a coach as well.

With about five minutes left to play and Western holding a double-digit advantage, Flowers said that it was enjoyable to watch the coach he had learned so much from as a player and as an assistant draw closer and closer to capturing that elusive title.

“It’s a real humbling experience and I’m really happy for him,” said Flowers looking on during the game. “From playing for coach, seeing coach and where he came from and back to the state championship here. He’s where I get my stuff from, I get it from him.”

But McDowell’s win with Western wasn’t only a win for the Detroit Redford community, it was a win for the PSL, which claimed its first title as a league since Keith Appling helped lead Detroit Pershing to a title in 2009.

Flowers said that if Western were to hold on to win as he looked on, it would definitely be a win for the league and the city of Detroit as well.

“As a whole, we haven’t won a state championship in so long as a city,” he said. “It would mean a whole lot for the city to win a championship right now.”

What Flowers was also watching on Saturday afternoon was his coach, peer and close friend finally picked up the final piece to his coaching career that already had so many stories.

“Not yet,” McDowell said when asked if winning a state title had hit him yet. “I think it’ll start kicking in on Monday. As far as my coaching career, this is the piece that was missing.”

And with that final piece will come more stories to tell and this time it will be McDowell’s stories from his first state championship team.

“The Western guys just want to meet the guys that I’m talking about that played at Redford,” he said. “But now, it’s all Western stories from here on out.”

After winning the Class A title, McDowell returned to the Breslin Center with some company, former players from his time with Detroit Redford, as they all gathered in the stands across from the Henry Ford bench to watch one of their own coach in the Class B final.

Unfortunately for Flowers and Henry Ford, they would fall short in their quest for a state title as Godwin Heights picked up the Class B state championship.

McDowell, looking on and watching his former player and assistant coach in his second state championship game, said that the moment was simply bitter-sweet because Henry Ford reached a point that not many are able to, but would have liked to see Flowers and Henry Ford come out on top.

“It’s good and bad,” McDowell said early in the fourth quarter of the Class B final. “It’s bad that they’re losing, but it’s good that they’re here. They’re playing against a hell of a team, this is my first time seeing Godwin play, but I was telling some of our guys that they’d give us a little bit of a run too. It’s a little bitter sweet, but just to get here is an accomplishment.”

With his former players together off to his left in the stands, talking and taking in the game at hand, McDowell couldn’t help but smile at how his Western team and Flowers’ Henry Ford squad carried the tradition they both helped create at Detroit Redford to their current teams, all while knowing they’d both created new stories with their journeys to the Breslin Center.

“It’s tremendous,” he said. “Now he’s over there coaching, I’ve got a lot of players who used to play for me at Redford over there, we’re all sitting together, reminiscing. It bridges the gap, Redford isn’t open anymore, but we’re not dead.”

With his team’s loss in the Class B championship game still fresh, Flowers said that simply what stood out to him about this year’s Henry Ford team was its passion and the passion it took from going from a team with a losing record three years ago, to being the Class B runner up two years later. One of many things he’ll have to tell to future teams about this year’s Henry Ford team. 

“Their passion,” he said. “Over the course of the past couple of years we went from being an under-.500 team, to an over-.500 team to getting here. These guys put in so much work on and off the floor so it’s just the passion that they had.”

While there were two different outcomes, one with a more preferable ending than the other, both coaches with Detroit Redford ties will go forward in their coaching careers with more stories to tell future teams and players. 

Only this time, they will come from new places.