Detroit — All season, Detroit Pershing has found a way to win. Even when it trailed by 11 points with six minutes left in the district final against Detroit Cass Tech, Pershing got a last-second shot by Martez Walker. Pershing beat U-D Jesuit on a last second shot by Kahlil Felder in the region final.
Romulus proved to be the team that could handle Pershing's pressure late in a game.
Romulus, behind a tremendous effort by senior Wes Clark, and 29 points and 11 rebounds from senior E.C. Matthews, defeated Pershing, 93-91, in a Class A quarterfinal Tuesday before an estimated crowd of some 7,000 at Calihan Hall.
Clark, who did not practice since suffering a right knee injury in a victory over Milan on Wednesday, played this night and played well. Romulus coach Nate Oats had said he didn't think Clark would play. Clark even used a cane to walk the day before.
But he finished with 17 points and provided the inspiration his team needed.
"I took a shot to numb the pain," Clark said. "It was about 2:30 or 3 o'clock. I didn't know until 20 minutes before the game. My teammates needed me. Now it's starting to wear off. It's starting to hurt. My adrenaline got me going. I put my body on the line. I was lacking wind. I guess I was about 80 percent."
That proved to be enough as Romulus (25-1), ranked No. 2, ousted Pershing for the second consecutive season in the quarterfinals. It moves on to play Grand Rapids Christian (20-6) in a semifinal Friday at Breslin Center in East Lansing.
Pershing (25-1) was ranked No. 1 all season.
Romulus led, 43-41, at halftime and 68-65 at the end of the third quarter. Romulus increased its lead to 83-77 on a Clark free throw with 3:19 left, before Pershing made a run.
Martez Walker (21 points) made a 3-pointer and two free throws, and Kahlil Felder's driving layup gave Pershing an 84-83 lead with 2:02 left. The lead changed hands four times before Jalon Plummer (15 points) made the biggest shot of the game, a 3-pointer from the left corner to give Romulus a 90-88 lead with a minute left.
Then mayhem took over. Pershing missed shots on three straight possessions — but each time Romulus committed a turnover.
Darsean Woodson split two free throws to cut the lead to one with 8.7 seconds remaining. Matthews and Felder (28 points) each made two free throws and Romulus still led 92-91 with three seconds left.
Pershing fouled in desperation and Matthews made a free throw to end it.
"We were right there," Pershing coach Wydell Henry said. "The shots didn't go in. The guys didn't play well at the right time."
Blake Meakin and Detroit News staff contributed