Josh McFolley fulfills mission to win a state title after coming up short last season
East Lansing – Josh McFolley transferred over to Detroit Western to accomplish one thing, and one thing only.
After his former school, Mount Clemens, fell to Josh Jackson and Detroit Consortium last season in the Class C quarterfinals, winning a state title with the Cowboys was the only objective.
His teammate at Mount Clemens, 6-8 forward Gerald Blackshear, followed him to Western, which most thought would propel them to become the top team in the state.
"Last year at Mount Clemens, we had all the pieces to the puzzle, but we just didn’t get it done," McFolley said. "We fell short of due to one player on the other side, Josh Jackson. But this year we brought our leadership and what coach Jermaine (Jackson) taught us (at Mount Clemens) over to Western. And we put it all together and got the win today."
McFolley scored a game-high 19 points in Western’s 62-59 win over Saginaw Arthur Hill in the Class A final. His huge third quarter, in which he went off for 10 points, ultimately allowed Western to pull away from what was a close game throughout the first half.
With Western leading by one with 2:25 left in the third, McFolley rolled off eight straight points, including a 3-pointer that gave the Cowboys a 41-34 lead after three quarters. That seemed to take the life out of Arthur Hill.
"I knew it was the last game of my high school career, and I had to take advantage," McFolley said. "My team needed me, so I stuck it out, and went in there to play my best."
Imagine how good McFolley would have been if he was healthy in the second half. He rolled his ankle late in the first half, an injury that usually hinders a player with his skill set. But McFolley had been through too much to let a minor injury halt his mission.
"I’m starting to feel it right now," McFolley said in the post-game press conference. "But my adrenaline was going, so I didn’t feel it as much in the game. I wasn’t worried about not being able to come out and play the second half. This was the biggest game of my career, and my team needed me more."
Western needed McFolley’s 3-point shooting and craftiness with the ball all season in order to win a state title. He and Blackshear certainly put Western over the top, but he doesn’t want any of the credit. Western was already established with a core of younger players, and he and Blackshear were just the missing pieces to the puzzle.
"This started with Brailen Neely," McFolley said of Western’s junior point guard. "This is his team, and he kept us all together. I didn’t want to come in and take over. I just came to help out, and we were able to put it all together.
"It didn’t take us (Neely) long at all to get it together either. After we started to communicate on and off the floor, it didn’t take long at all."
The state title win was a first for everyone involved. McFolley completed the mission he sought out to accomplish at Western. Coach Derrick McDowell finally won a state after four tries, and it’s the first for the program.
It had been a long time since Western was relevant in a sport other than baseball, and McFolley was happy to be able to help make everyone apart of the Western family winners.
"This win was really big for the community," he said. "The community hadn’t had something this big in a while, and it was big for the school.
"It’s really big for my man coach Mac (McDowell). We all worked so hard for this since the summer, and it’s a very humbling moment."