• Michigan

Mumford proves it’s no one-year wonder, repeating as PSL city champs

By: Matthew B. Mowery, February 16, 2019, 1:15 am

DETROIT — If last year’s first-ever Public School League city title was validation for the Detroit Mumford girls basketball program, this year’s repeat might’ve been validation of that validation.

The Mustangs (15-3) proved they were no fluke, no flash in the pan, no one-year wonder, pulling away from Detroit King to win, 59-49, and repeat as city champs.

“That’s absolutely correct. I’m so happy we were able to defend our championship because of that very reason. We played as hard as we possibly could, all season long, and it paid off. The girls practice hard, they play hard, they’re together. All of that. I’m just excited for them, and I’m excited for my school, to be honest with you,” Mumford coach Kareem Hogan said.

“It’s better (than last year). You know why? Because everybody gave us their best shot. Now it’s just a relief to get it done.”

The Mustangs (15-3) built a big lead at the half, then watched the Crusaders (14-2) erase it with a resurgent third quarter, taking a 44-43 lead 90 seconds into the fourth quarter.

But Mumford — which forced 27 turnovers on the night, and nine in the fourth quarter alone — outscored King, 9-3, in the final four minutes to clinch the crown.

“It feels great. I can’t even describe the feeling right now — it feels great,” said senior Ajanee Horton, who didn’t play a year ago. “We lost intensity in the third quarter, and started letting them come back. We had a big lead coming into halftime. … I had a bad first half, and my coach told me it was ‘Go time,’ so I had to go out there and do what I had to do for my team, so we could get this win.”

Horton made two of the biggest plays in the game, though, coming in cold off the bench, and driving for a pair of layups.

“Huge. The biggest of the game. Huge. Absolutely huge,” Hogan said. “I stuck with her. I never gave up on her. I told her her moment will come, and it came. She cashed in.”

Hogan had told his team “We gotta pick it up, or we’re gonna lose,” after King outscored Mumford 21-10 in the third, ending the frame with a 3-pointer by Danielle Camp to trail Mumford by just three, 42-39, headed to the fourth.

That third quarter was the only one in which the Crusaders held the intensity advantage, though, something not lost on first-year coach Gwen Burton.

“It was a matter of intensity. Coming out, it was low energy from the start, and if you want to win a state championship — or any kind of championship — you gotta get on the floor. You can’t bend over, and try picking up a ball. You gotta dive on the floor. And Mumford tonight was the better team. They were diving on the floor, and proved they wanted to be the champion,” she said. “And we didn’t.”

King star Del’Janae Williams hurt her knee with 6:09 left in the game, and had to leave. She eventually returned, but her absence coincided with Mumford reasserting control of the game.

“The thing is, we practiced yesterday for the situation if we didn’t have her on the floor,” Burton said. “We go through game situations — ‘Is she in foul trouble? This is what you do.’ And we didn’t execute that at all today, like we were a brand-new JV team.”

While Horton’s two driving buckets were impactful, she didn’t carry the scoring load for Mumford on the evening.

Tiaira Earnest scored 10 of her team-high 17 points in the second-quarter run, as the Mustangs started to pull away, while Adoreya Williams scored seven of her 16 in the fourth. Del’Janae Williams led King with 15 points, while Camp had 10.