Pershing's Justin Tillman reaches for the ball during his team's loss to Southeastern on Jan. 31. (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)
Detroit – The two most successful programs in the Detroit Public School League in the past six years will play for the PSL title Friday night at Calihan Hall at 7:30.
No. 2-ranked and defending PSL champion Detroit Pershing (17-2) will face Detroit Southeastern (13-6) for the second time this season. Southeastern accomplished a rare feat on Jan. 31 when it went into Pershing's gym and held on for an 81-79 victory.
Pershing trailed by 19 points in the second half, took the lead late, only to let victory slip through its hands.
Southeastern won the title in 2011 and lost in the semifinals last season to Detroit Cass Tech on a last-second tip-in. Southeastern also reached the Class A final in 2011 and again last season.
"This is fitting," Southeastern coach George Ward said. "The only loss they had during the regular season was to us.
"Pershing is the modern day (Detroit) Southwestern. Pershing is usually up 12-0 before you walk into the gym. Our resume isn't that bad either."
Pershing won the PSL title three of the last five years and is the last PSL team to win a state title (Class A, 2009).
Should Pershing win it would surpass Detroit Redford's achievement of winning four PSL titles in seven seasons (2001, 2005-07).
Southwestern won nine titles from 1981-91.
Pershing coach Wydell Henry said his team must play better defense and gain the edge in rebounds to defeat Southeastern this time.
"We had a lack of respect for Southeastern the first time," Henry said. "I'll take the blame for that. We didn't check anybody until the fourth quarter."
The boys' final will follow the girls championship game at 5 p.m. between Cass Tech (14-3) and Detroit King (17-1).
Tickets are $10 and are available at Calihan Hall.