Pershing’s Wydell Henry after beating Romulus: “You don’t win championships in December.” (Ricardo Thomas/Detroit News)
Detroit -- There were a number of subplots surrounding the matchup between the top teams in the state Saturday inside the iconic Detroit Pershing gymnasium with its many championship banners.
Pershing and Romulus each boast one of the state's top point guards, top wing players and top post players. And those in the standing-room-only crowd paid their $10 to see these individual matchups, the evening's appetizer (No. 4 Detroit Southeastern against Dearborn Heights Robichaud) and the main event.
Pershing will remain No. 1 this week after it held off Romulus, 83-76.
Pershing is 2-0 and Romulus is 1-1.
This was also Wydell Henry's first big test as Pershing's new coach. Henry replaced A.W. Canada as head coach in September. The pressure is on Henry to continue the strong tradition that began under coach Will Robinson in the 1960s.
Henry is fully aware of the circumstances. There will be more pressure-packed games for Henry, and he tried to keep it in perspective.
"I thought about (the significance)," Henry said. "I told my players during the week, you don't win championships in December. This was a test game. To go against a team like Romulus this early in the season, it shows you where you're at."
Jermaine Jackson , a former Detroit Finney and Detroit Mercy star, took over the program at Mt. Clemens this season and made an auspicious debut on Tuesday as Mt. Clemens defeated defending Detroit Public School League champion Detroit King, 66-65.
What should be noted is the team's classification. Mt. Clemens (1-0) is Class C; King (0-1) is in Class A.
Sophomore Josh McFolley had 25 points and six rebounds to lead Mt. Clemens. King led by 20 points in the first half before Mt. Clemens came back.
McFolley is a transfer from Grosse Pointe North. His family moved into Macomb County, enabling McFolley to be immediately eligible.
Mt. Clemens, once one of the top programs in Macomb County, has won one district title in 10 years and this could be the year it breaks through and once again becomes a factor in the state tournament. Mt. Clemens was 15-6 last season as it lost its first game in the state tournament.
In addition to McFolley, three other players transferred to Mt. Clemens but these three, senior Josh Branch (6-4), sophomore Jerrell Blacksheer (6-8) and sophomore Charles Penn (6-6) won't be eligible until mid-January.
Mt. Clemens' next game is Friday at home against Clinton Township Clintondale.
A big man with range
It would seem Miroslav Jaksic of Walled Lake Western would be a lock to play at a Division I school next season. At 6-11, Jaksic, who was born in Serbia and attended high school in Windsor, Ont., before last season, is a typical European player, according to Western coach RaRedding Murray . Jaksic possesses fine perimeter skills, including an accurate 3-point shot, but needs to continue to improve his post moves and overall interior game.
Jaksic has a 3.5 grade-point average and has been offered scholarships by Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan and South Alabama.
Murray said Jaksic is all but certain to attend a prep school next year to gain more experience and work on his game.
Jaksic turned a few heads on Nov. 30 when he scored 36 points during a scrimmage with top-ranked Detroit Pershing. In Western's season-opening 49-40 victory over Plymouth on Tuesday, Jaksic had 15 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Western (1-0) will host Howell on Friday. Western will also partake in the Roundball Classic Dec. 30 against host Detroit Country Day.
Three coaches heaped praise upon Rochester 6-6 senior James Young on Friday after Young had 29 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in Rochester's 52-46 victory over North Farmington.
North Farmington coach Todd Negoshian said Young, who signed with Kentucky, is the best high school player he's seen.
Negoshian's father, Tom , a former head coach at North Farmington who's now an assistant, made comparisons to such outstanding players like Spencer Haywood and Ralph Simpson , who both played for Detroit Pershing in the late 1960s. Tom Negoshian said as good as Haywood was in high school, there are things Young can do better than Haywood. When questioned further, Tom Negoshian retreated a bit and said Simpson was a better high school player.
Garth Pleasant , who coached 35 seasons at Rochester College before retiring after the 2010-11 season, was in agreement with the Negoshians, adding Young's skill level placed him in an elite group.
Last week's top performance
Southfield Christian sophomore Bakari Evelyn , who made a running 3-pointer as time expired to send Southfield Christian's game at Orchard Lake St. Mary's into overtime. Evelyn scored 39 points as Southfield Christian won, 67-64.