Southeastern's Leonard Harper-Baker splits the Cass Tech defense on Friday. (Mark Bialek / Special to Detroit News)
Detroit — All Leonard Harper-Baker could think of was, here we go again.
Last season, Detroit Southeastern lost to Detroit Cass Tech on a last-second tip-in during a Detroit Public School League semifinal and Harper-Baker thought his team would lose another close one.
Tit for tat. Harper-Baker’s tip-in as time expired gave Southeastern a 44-43 victory at Cass Tech on Friday in a PSL semifinal.
In what was a wild and controversial finish, Southeastern, trailing 43-42, inbounded the ball with 8.2 seconds and Cass Tech forced a held ball with 3.1 seconds left.
The officials awarded Southeastern possession and Eahn Blackwell’s shot from the left corner missed and Harper-Baker was there for the tip. The final horn sounded as the ball rattled the rim before going through.
“He shot the three and I saw it was going to miss,” Harper-Baker said. “I went up and I felt good when it came off (my fingers). It looked good when it went through. When they got those two steals and scored I thought they got us again.”
“It’s hard to win at Cass. They have the crowd. We’re supposed to be the home team.”
There won’t be a home team in the final. Southeastern (13-6), PSL champions three years ago, will play defending champion Detroit Pershing for the title 7:30 p.m. Friday at Calihan Hall.
Pershing (17-2), behind 27 points from Justin Tillman, defeated Detroit Douglass (10-8) 82-68 in the first semifinal.
Southeastern led 13-6 at the end of the first quarter but missed 15 of 16 field goal tries in the second and trailed 22-18 at halftime.
Cass Tech (12-5) took its largest lead, 34-27, on a layup by Kenny Carpenter (12 points) with1:24 left in the third.
With 3:01 remaining D’Cari Charleston (13 points) gave Southeastern its first lead, 40-39, since early in the second quarter. Blackwell’s basket gave Southeastern a 42-39 lead, but Cass Tech regained the lead on baskets by Charles Key and Carpenter, the latter with 18 seconds left.
The final held-ball call didn’t sit well with Cass Tech coach David Dixon.
“It was our ball,” Dixon said. “They had the last jump ball. I can’t tell you why the officials didn’t come over (to the scorer’s table). They’re a great crew. They missed that one.
“We made our mistakes. (My players) did enough to win. We should have had the ball.”
The first game was close until Pershing coach Wydell Henry did what most never expected.
He directed his team to go into a zone defense.
With six minutes left in the second quarter Pershing fell back into a zone, a defense seldom seen from a program that prides itself in a physical man-to-man style.
Darrell Davis three-point play with 6:25 left gave Douglass its last lead, 22-21, and it would score just three points the rest of the half, a 3-pointer Terrell Hales, and Pershing raced to a 39-25 lead at halftime.
“I credit the zone for that,” Henry said. “I knew we’d have to use it. Pershing usually doesn’t play zone. They don’t have a real big (player). I figured we’d zone them a little.”
Tillman, a 6-foot-7 senior, was too much for Douglass to handle inside. Tillman had four dunks, had five blocks and 10 rebounds. Tillman owned the interior. Rarely did he attempt a shot more than three feet from the basket. Tillman was 10-of-17 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free throw line.
And if statistics were given for changing shots, Tillman would have had at least a half dozen of those.
“He’s a tough matchup,” Douglass coach Nkwane Young said. “But we didn’t put a body on him. But he played a great game. He beat our kids down the floor (for layups).”
Henry said his game plan, offensively, was to get the ball to Tillman as much as possible. And Pershing did that. Mory Diane and Marquel Ingram were making their shots from the perimeter that helped open the middle, but they didn’t forget about Tillman.
“We were hitting out shots,” Tillman said. “They did a good job of getting me the ball. The last three games they’ve looked to me more.”
Ingram added 21 points and Diane had 17 points and seven rebounds.
For Douglass, Davis had 27 points and eight rebounds, and Hales had 21 points.
More boys basketball
Allen Park Inter-City Baptist 65, Plymouth Christian 47: Evan Kraatz had 21 points and nine assists, and Garrett Kraatz 15 points for Inter-City (11-4, 8-3 MIAC Blue). Michael Slater scored 20 for Christian (1-13).
Birmingham Brother Rice 78, Detroit Westside Christian 77: Kevin Hayes had 37 points and Patrick Sparks 12 for Brother Rice (9-8). DeShawn Brocks scored 36 and Derrick Brocks 20 for Westside (9-5).
Birmingham Groves 63, West Bloomfield 48: Eddie Reese had 16 points and Charles Jeffries 14 for Groves (4-10, 2-6 OAA White). Zach Allread scored 13 for West Bloomfield (5-10, 2-8).
Bloomfield Hills 78, Pontiac 48: Yante Maten had 25 points, Khalil Gracey had 11 points, and Armand Cartwright scored 10 for Bloomfield Hills (13-2, 8-2 OAA Red). Freddie Gibson scored eight for Pontiac.
Dearborn Edsel Ford 70, Dearborn Heights Robichaud 67: Craig Gailliard led Edsel Ford (10-7, 3-5 WWAC Blue) with 16 points, while Donovan Farrell and Jahaziel Gordon each scored 15. Timonte Ferguson scored 22 and D.J. Mayo 21 for Robichaud (7-9, 2-6).
Dearborn Heights Crestwood 58, Dearborn Fordson 56: Ali Mallah had 19 points and Billy Abduljami 16 for Crestwood (13-1). Moussa Harb scored 14 and Hassan Doghman 12 for Fordson (11-4).
Detroit Allen Academy 67, Hamtramck 60: Jason Williams Jr. had 24 points, and Pikaya Ellis had 23 points for Allen Academy (16-1). Phil Stewart had 18 points and Aaron Boyer 17 for Hamtramck.
Ecorse 83, Detroit University Prep Science & Math 33
Lake Orion 63, Birmingham Seaholm 56: Daemon Johnson had 18 points and Nate Marcum 14 for Lake Orion (8-7, 6-4 OAA White). Jeff Bowman had 24 points for Seaholm (9-6, 5-5).
Lincoln Park 61, Trenton 58: Tywan Cage had 13 points, Joe Decoster 12, and Hilbert Banks 10 for Lincoln Park (6-7). Christian Mercure had 19 points and Jerry LaBell 15 for Trenton.
Macomb Dakota 66, Macomb L’Anse Creuse North 58: D.J. Lazerus had 25 points and seven rebounds, and Vladi Stojanovski had 15 points for Dakota (12-4, 7-3 MAC Red). Andre Powell had 19 points for North.
North Farmington 71, Southfield 62: Jeron Rogers had 24 points, Alex Darden 16, and Anthony Onsana 14 for North Farmington (12-3, 7-3 OAA Red). Isiah Green had 16 points, and Michael Flowers had 16 points for Southfield.
Oak Park 64, Troy Athens 57 (2OT): JaChristian Biles had 23 points and Kelvon Fuller had 20 points and 15 rebounds for Oak Park (9-6, 7-2 OAA White). Tim Shayoka scored 25 for Athens (11-4, 7-2).
Rochester Hills Stoney Creek 41, Ferndale 39: Jon Paul Sinacola scored 14 for Stoney Creek (11-4, 6-3 OAA Blue). Robert Deiz scored 16 for Ferndale (5-9, 4-6).
Southfield Christian 95, Novi Franklin Road Christian 43: Lindsey Hunter IV had 19 points, and Bakari Evelyn and Richard Feagin had 13 each for Southfield Christian (16-1, 12-0 MIAC Blue). Austin Hearns scored 21 for Franklin Road.
Southgate Anderson 54, Brownstown Woodhaven 42: Connor Phee had 12 points and Dejon Matthews 10 for Anderson (10-7, 8-6 Downriver). Beruk Lessanwork and Nick Towianski each scored 13 for Woodhaven.
Taylor Kennedy 70, Allen Park 39: Andia Marsh had 18 points, Brendan Williams 12 and Anton Hogan 10 for Kennedy (12-3).
Taylor Trillium 63, Highland Park Renaissance Academy 44: Cliff Oden had 16 points and 14 rebounds, and Isiah Hunt scored 12 for Trillium (9-5).
Utica Ford 58, Utica 37: Ja’won Vaught and John Combs each had 15 points and Bogart Lipe 12 for Ford (10-5, 8-2 MAC White). Blake Vallie had 12 points for Utica.
Allen Park Inter-City Baptist 46, Plymouth Christian 38: Mikayla Thoune had 16 points and Karalynn Goering 15 for Inter-City (8-9). Jen Malcom had 15 points and Rachael Fuller 12 for Christian (9-8, 6-5 MIAC Blue).
Canton 42, Salem 26: Rachel Winters had 13 points, Paige Aresco 11 and Taylor Hunley 10 for Canton (15-3). Jamyra Wilson scored 10 for Salem (12-6).
Dearborn Edsel Ford 39, Dearborn Heights Robichaud 30: Kennedy Rankin had 15 points for Edsel Ford (8-9). Raven Kelly had 12 points for Robichaud.
Ecorse 51, Detroit University Prep Math & Science 36: Tera Nesbitt had 15 points, and Nicole Fields and Shacal Miller scored 10 each for Ecorse (9-1). Kyeir Brown had 15 for University Prep.
Grosse Pointe North 37, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 24: Jayla Hubbard had 10 points for North (10-8, 6-5 MAC Red). Grace Cooke had eight points for Chippewa Valley (0-18, 0-10).
Grosse Pointe South 69, Utica Ford 60: Cierra Rice had 32 points, Alizza Brown 19, and Bre’nae Andrews 12 for South (18-1). Renee Shelton had 17 points and Alex Sorgi 15 for Utica (10-8).
Haslett 55, Ionia 41: Makenna Ott had 15 points, and Adrianna Stolicker and McKenzie Decook scored 12 each for Haslett. Anna Riccius scored 12 for Ionia (13-5).
Highland Park Renaissance Academy 64, Holt Lutheran 38: Micah Davis had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Abaya Scott scored 10 for Renaissance (6-9). Keke Harris scored 15 for Lutheran.
Northville 73, Wayne 11: Byrce Quick had 14 points and Brook Adams 12 for Northville (13-5). Wayne is 0-17.
Novi 40, Plymouth 35: Kerri McMahan had 21 points for Novi (15-3). Plymouth is 14-4.
Novi Franklin Road Christian 54, Southfield Christian 43: Kristen Massey had 24 points and Elise Smith 13 for Franklin Road (10-7). Amelia Dennison scored 14 for Southfield Christian.
St. Clair Shores South Lake 76, Madison Heights Lamphere 44: NaKyra Jordan led South Lake (11-5, 9-3 Macomb Area Conference Silver) with 33 points, while Khadajah Williams added 22. Alexis Hilliard led Lamphere with 19 points, and Kelsey Wilkinson added 10.
Southfield 63, Hazel Park 19: Kristilynn Defoe had 21 points and Cortney Williams had nine points and 10 rebounds for Southfield (7-8). Dominique Coleman had eight points for Hazel Park (2-13).
Sterling Heights 65, Warren Fitzgerald 50: Sade’ Lemons had 27 points, Julianna Trombley 13 and Dayshia Vance 11 for Sterling Heights (15-3, 11-1 MAC Blue), which clinched the MAC Blue title. Amani Hutson and Kela Willis each scored 13 for Fitzgerald (9-9, 5-6).
Warren Woods Tower 51, St. Clair Shores Lakeview 41: Sydney Homic had 13 points and 18 rebounds for Tower (3-14). Leah Charrette scored 23 for Lakeview.
Waterford Mott 51, Brighton 39: Lauren Hung had 19 points and Moriah Williams 11 for Mott (16-2). Natalie Peterson scored 14 for Brighton (13-5).
Westland John Glenn 54, Milford 50: Victoria McCloud had 15 points, Kaira Barnes 14 and R’Mani Garrard 13 for Glenn (8-10). Elise Gustafson had 20 points and Hailey Kasab 10 for Milford (6-12).
Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood 9, Birmingham Brother Rice 1: Sam Miletic had three goals and four assists, Christopher Brown had three goals and three assists, and Cooper Stahl had two assists for Cranbrook (21-1). Matt Riggleman scored for Brother Rice.