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McFolley, Blackshear lead Western past East English, 78-71

By: Branden Hunter, January 23, 2015, 10:52 pm

Detroit – Without its two transfers, Detroit Western was a state title contender. Add guard Josh McFolley to the mix along with Gerald Blackshear, a 6-8 post player, and the Cowboys just might win it all. The two teamed for 35 points to lead top-ranked Western to a 78-71 nail-biter over Detroit East English Village Prep in a Detroit Public School League Division 1 game on Friday at East English.

It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but head coach Derrick McDowell said he’ll take it.

"I’m really pleased with this game," he said. "I knew it would be this type of environment, and we’ve never played in this type of environment. So I’m very pleased with it."

East English (8-3) led by 13 in the third, and with their deafening crowd behind the Bulldogs, appeared ready to pull off the upset. But McFolley came alive in the second half. He was held to seven points in the first half and committing several turnovers in his first game since last March when he played for Mount Clemens. He led all scorers with 21.

"He screwed up the first half with the turnovers," McDowell said jokingly. "I told him he had about 1,000 turnovers, and he said ‘I only have four’, which is still too many.

"But he did calm down in the second half. We expected him to come out wild, but he shot the ball better later on."

The third quarter was key for Western (10-0). Down 13, the Cowboys went on a 10-0 run to pull within 43-40 with 4:39 left. McFolley’s third 3-pointer of the quarter ended the run.

Blackshear also go off to a slow start but he, too, picked up his level of play in the second half.

His lay-up to end the third gave Western the lead back, 52-51. Blackshear then scored six in the fourth and finished with 14 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks.

 With East English chipping away at Western’s lead, Blackshear’s dunk with 3:18 left in the game increased Western’s lead to 66-60, taking the life out of the home crowd.

"Gerald solidified the basket, and he did what I asked him to do," said McDowell. "He’s a monster in the paint, and he was just have to set the tone right to get him involved. We can’t play really fast and leave him out.

"So we slowed it down, gave it to him, and once you get it down there to him, can’t nobody stop him. At least not on this level."

The key stat of the night was the 13 made free throws by Western in the fourth quarter. Senior Aaron Austin made two free throws with 43.8 to go to give Western a 74-69 lead.

 Austin scored 16 points and Karmari Newman led East English with 19.

"I think Aaron was the player of the game in my eyes," McDowell said. "Not only did he play good defense on Newman, but he did a lot of offense on the other end that allowed us to win the game."