P.J. Mitchell, Gary Solomon led Edison to its first title, 53-38 over Glen Lake in Class C final
East Lansing – The final leg of the season was a thing of beauty for Detroit Edison.
The small charter school located in Detroit’s historic Eastern Market entered the state tournament at 10-10. On Saturday, courtesy of a 53-38 victory over Maple City Glen Lake in the Class C final at the Breslin Center, the Pioneers won the school’s first state title, a week after the girls won their second Class C title.
Edison (17-10) was the beneficiary of playing in arguably the most competitive league in the state, the Detroit Public School League that fortified their resilience.
The Pioneers are only the fourth program in state history to enter the state tournament with a record of .500 or worse and win a state title.
“There are two words to describe this team and those are perseverance and patience. They reaped the benefits of both of those traits tonight,” said Edison coach Brandon Neely. “They showed if you dedicate yourself to a common cause, commit to a process, you can create something pretty special. I was never worried about the record. We had confidence in ourselves. We knew we had the talent to compete with anyone.”
Edison went 2-6 in league play this year. Regrouping for the PSL playoffs, Edison took out tradition-laden Detroit Pershing, 82-45, in the PSL final at Calihan Hall. The Pioneers powered past Pershing in a regional semifinal as well.
Glen Lake (24-3) tested Edison’s mettle. The Lakers led, 19-18, at halftime then increased that lead to 25-21 early in the second half.
Once Edison got behind in the third quarter, senior point guard Pierre (P.J.) Mitchell took over, scoring in 12 straight to key the victory. He followed a 3-pointer with a free-throw line tied the game at 25-25. Mitchell made another 3-pointer from the top of the key to give Edison the lead for good, 28-25, at the 4:31 mark of the third. He ended the quarter with a steal and easy lay-in to give his club a 39-31 advantage heading into the fourth.
“I couldn’t find a rhythm in the first half, so I made sure to turn it around after halftime,” Mitchell said. “I turned it around in my head mentally and I turned it around on the floor by hitting my shots and making plays. I wanted to leave my mark on this program. That was my motivation in the second half.”
Mitchell signed with Central Michigan and was making his third consecutive appearances in the Class C semifinal. He started for Detroit Loyola’s semifinal team as a sophomore and then helped the Pioneers get there last season.
Mitchell’s teammates assumed responsibility for delivering the knockout blow. Center Deonte (Spider) Johnson opened the fourth with two free throws. Shooting guard Gary Solomon followed with a twisting lay-up in transition and a slam dunk going baseline.
A 3-pointer by power forward Brian Taylor and his dunk made it 53-36 with 90 seconds to play.
Mitchell scored 17 points and Solomon, who signed with LIU-Brooklyn, had 16 points. Johnson will be playing at Cleveland State next year and recorded a double-double (12 points and 10 rebounds).
Glen Lake senior captain Cade Peterson suffered an ankle in the third quarter that left the Lakers exposed. Peterson is Glen Lake’s do-it-all forward and emotional sparkplug. Leaving at the 4:02 mark of third quarter Peterson returned in the fourth quarter but was clearly hobbled.
“I came down on a shoe going for a rebound off a free throw and I heard something pop and I felt my bone touch the floor,” Peterson said. “I couldn’t really move it. I went back in to be there for my team. I wasn’t myself though down the stretch….I’m not for making excuses. At the end of the day, Edison got the job done and we didn’t.”
Peterson had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Junior co-captain Xander Okerlund spearheaded Glen Lake’s scoring attack with 19 points to go with his seven rebounds.
“We’re disappointed, but we still hold our heads high….it was a heck of a season and a heck of a run in the tournament,” Lakers coach Rich Ruelas said. “We were right there, we were hanging with them in the second half. Then Caden got hurt and things started to fall apart. He’s our rock. He’s our leader. He does it all for us and without him in there at the end of the third quarter, we ran into trouble. Edison can pour on points in a hurry and that’s what they did.”