East Lansing — Detroit Western kept its unbeaten season and state title hopes alive by keeping all-state junior guard Cassius Winston out of the lane, defeating U-D Jesuit, 55-46, on Friday in the Class A semifinals.
Winston did score a game-high 21, but shot 4-for-12 (1-for-7 3-pointers).
Western (25-0) used an 8-0 run to open the game and never trailed, leading 8-4 after one, 25-20 at halftime and 31-27 after three.
Junior guard Brailen Neely led Western with 16 points (7-for-13), including a transition basket to open up a 50-42 lead with 1 minute 20 seconds remaining. He guarded Winston at times in the opening half, limiting him to 11 first-half points.
"I've been playing against Cassius all my life," said Neely, who played several years of AAU ball with Winston. "I pretty much knew his game, but he's still a great player. I just tried to keep him out of the lane. I tried to force him into being a jump shooter."
Jesuit (23-3) didn't score on its first nine possessions, missing three shots and turning the ball over six times. Irt shot 28.9 percent overall, making 1-of-17 3-pointers. Jesuit shot 19-for-32 on free throws.
"We knew we had to slow Winston down," Western coach Derrick McDowell said. "In the first half, he got to the line a lot (nine times) so in the second half we wanted to make him make (jump) shots and keep him off the line.
"I felt the zone defense (to start second half) gave him a little bit of problems and that helped get our foot back under us. The main thing was to clog the lane and keep Winston out of the lane. If he was going to get assists, he was going to get assists off of jump shots, not get in the lane and score, not get in the lane and get fouled and not get in the lane and dump it off for dunks."
Said Winston: "It was tough. They did a good job of keeping me out of the paint."
Still, McDowell feels lucky to be playing for its first title — Western was 11-for-28 on free throws, 9-for-22 in the fourth quarter — against Saginaw Arthur Hill at noon today. Western defeated Arthur Hill, 69-57, in December.
Plus, Gerald Blackshear (Detroit) was plagued by foul trouble. He played 18 minutes (fouled out with 5:15 left), and was limited to six points and three rebounds.
Jesuit coach Pat Donnelly was pleased with the defensive effort by Gregory Eboigbodin on Blackshear, along with his team's overall performance on defense.
"We struggled in the lane, inside the arc, outside the arc and from the free throw line," Donnelly said. "So it wasn't our day at the offensive end, but I felt we did a pretty good job defensively."
It was the second straight trip to the Final Four for Jesuit, losing in the semifinals last year. Donnelly, however, believes they can make it back with eight of his top nine players returning.
"I feel we have the talent to make a run next year," Donnelly said. "We have to become better shooters, get stronger to be able to finish through contact."
Arthur Hill 73, Lansing Everett 61: Saginaw Arthur Hill used a 14-2 run to close the third quarter to spark its victory.
Senior guard Eric Davis, the Mr. Basketball runnerup headed for Texas, had 20 points and three assists during the pivotal run. Billy Burton scored 18, sophomore Brian Bowen had 15 and De'Quevion Johnson added 11 points, nine rebounds, six assists and four steals.
Arthur Hill (24-3) did most of its damage during the third-quarter in transition, taking advantage of several turnovers.
Burton made a 3-pointer to start the run and Bowen scored six, including a pair of dunks in transition. Johnson had five points, including a dunk off an alley-oop pass from Davis, and a three-point play (basket and free throw).
"We gave up quite a few transition baskets that hurt us," Everett coach Desmond Ferguson said. "We did a poor job getting back on transition defense and that's where we hang our hat on."
Everett (24-3) failed to get the ball inside to Trevor Manuel (Oregon) during the four-minute stretch in the third. He finished with 15 points, six in the second half, and had seven turnovers.
"We told our big guy Will Rodgers to just put pressure on (Manuel) because he's not really tough in the paint, he likes to stay on the outside a lot," Bowen said. "It was a tough matchup for us, but I think we got past it and just played hard against him to get stops."