Jackson — Chants of “Overrated, Overrated” from the Jackson High student section were directed at Ypsilanti Community senior Corey Allen, who was plagued by foul trouble Tuesday night while limited to two first-half points.
All they did was put a fire under Allen, who went on to score 11 third-quarter points, including three 3-pointers during a stretch of 2 minutes and 20 seconds, to turn a 36-28 deficit into a 41-40 lead en route to a 57-50 win.
Allen is a special player who can take over a game, a reason he is in the conversation when the topic of Mr. Basketball comes up.
U-D Jesuit and Michigan State-bound point guard Cassius Winston is the overwhelming favorite, but Allen’s play shows he deserves to be a Mr. Basketball candidate, along with 6-foot-10 center Austin Davis of Onsted, Warren De La Salle guard Kevin McKay and Rochester Adams guard Spencer Littleson.
Other candidates are Kamari Newman of Detroit East English and Justin Turner of Detroit Renaissance, who will be facing off in the Public School League championship game Friday night at Calihan Hall.
Allen, 6-3 and 205 pounds, has developed into one of the premier shooting guards in the state for a 14-1 Ypsilanti team which advanced to the Class A quarterfinals last season. He is averaging 24.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, 4.6 assists and four steals and is headed for the University of Detroit.
“I’ve worked hard on my game all my life and feel I deserve to be in the running for Mr. Basketball, a candidate for the award,” Allen said. “I’ve been known as a scorer, but I’ve developed a passing game because I’m working on being a point guard at the next level.
“I’ve gotten a lot stronger too, started eating more and got into the weight room during the summer. I went from 185 last year to 205 and I’m now a big guard and I notice when I drive through the lane, people move out of the way.”
Allen was at his best in a 77-74 overtime win over Southeastern Conference-rival Ann Arbor Huron earlier this month, scoring 45, 19 coming during the fourth quarter and overtime. He made seven 3-pointers and also used his size and talent to get to the basket.
Ypsilanti coach Steve Brooks was thrilled to hear the chants by the Jackson students.
“I think when I kind of heard the crowd go ‘Overrated’ tonight I wanted to send them a thank you card,” Brooks said. “Those kind of things will really wake him up. He’s a consistent guy and he gets things done. He hit big shots, made shots to make it a comeback, then hit shots to put it away, and that’s what makes him special.
“He knows now how to take the shots where he may have forced things in the past. He now reads the game so well and can pick the big shots and he just doesn’t do it on jump shots, he’ll go and get the tip-in off the offensive glass, he’ll drive it, dish it to another guy.
“We always tell our guys you’re really playing for the next level. Sure, we love him here at Ypsi, but he’s got to be ready to play at the next level and that’s why the weight room has helped. And, he’s really quick for 205, too. He’s an explosive guy.”
High school fans know all about Winston, who has led U-D to three straight Catholic League championships and runs to the Class A semifinals the last two years.
Winston signed with MSU last November and is averaging 23.7 points, 5.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 2.1 steals for top-ranked and unbeaten U-D.
“He’s been double-teamed every time he touches the ball,” U-D coach Pat Donnelly said. “He has shown great poise and leadership in leading the team to a 16-0 record and fourth straight Central Division championship.”
Michigan-bound Davis has added quickness and endurance to his dominant inside presence, now able to run the floor and score in transition after losing 40 pounds to play at 230.
Davis is averaging 22.6 points, 13.2 rebounds and 4.4 blocks while shooting 77 percent from both the field and the foul line to make Onsted (16-1) a legitimate threat to compete for the Class B state title.
Littleson worked on his game with former Detroit standout guard Rashad Phillips to become one of the top perimeter threats in the state.
Littleson, who will play at Duquesne, opened the season with a 42-point outing in an overtime win over Auburn Hills Avondale. He is averaging 24.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, five assists and three steals for 11-3 Rochester Adams and was nominated for the McDonald’s All-America team last month.
“Spencer has worked harder than any player I’ve ever coached and his sheer effort has turned him into a Division 1 player,” Adams coach John Hall said. “He has done everything for us, handling the ball since we don’t have a true point guard. He’s played well.”
McKay, a 6-4 guard who will play at Central Michigan, has scored 35 or more points four times this season. He is averaging 23.5 points, seven rebounds and 5.5 assists for 11-5 De La Salle, which came just short of pulling off an upset against U-D Friday, letting a six-point fourth-quarter lead slip away in a 51-47 loss.
“He’s scoring and getting double and triple-teamed with every team we play which gives other players open looks,” said De La Salle coach Greg Esler. “He can make the perimeter shot, has a little pull-up jumper now and gets to the basket and finishes better than anyone I’ve had play for me. He’s a Big Ten player so Central Michigan really has a great one.”
Newman, a 6-4 guard headed for George Mason, is averaging 25 points for 15-3 East English, including 28 Friday in a 71-70 comeback win over Detroit Northwestern in a PSL semifinal.
Newman rallied East English back from a 38-27 second-quarter deficit, scoring 10 during a 10-2 run to end the first half to pull within 40-37.
And, the 6-4 Turner showed he has the all-around game in Renaissance’s 65-44 PSL semifinal rout of King, scoring in transition and making mid-range jumpers and long-range shots. He had 25 points, 11 coming during the second quarter when Renaissance opened up a 32-18 cushion. .
“He does so much for us, rebounding, defending, passing,” coach Vito Jordan said of Turner, who is averaging 20 points for 15-2 Renaissance.
Catholic League playoffs set
U-D Jesuit will be going after its fourth straight Catholic League championship, starting with a quarterfinal game against Pontiac Notre Dame Prep at noon Saturday at Birmingham Marian.
U-D is trying to become the first team to win four straight since Detroit Catholic Central in the early 1950s. De La Salle, which will play Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, won three straight titles earlier this decade.
By the numbers
23: Consecutive points the Detroit Country Day girls scored during the fourth quarter Friday in a 37-33 comeback win over Ypsilanti Arbor Prep
47: School-record number of points scored by Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian senior Tyler Baker in a 59-34 win over Wyoming Lee
6: Points by which Warren De La Salle led unbeaten U-D Jesuit with four minutes left in the fourth quarter before MSU-bound guard Cassius Winston rallied his team for a 51-47 win
3: Starters out of the lineup (ankle injuries, concussion) for De La Salle
Terrence Sewell, Detroit Northwestern
The senior guard had 28 points and 12 rebounds, including a tip-in at the buzzer for the difference, in a 64-63 upset of defending state champion Detroit Western in a PSL quarterfinal Wednesday.
“He has been double-teamed every time he touches the ball and just shows great poise and leadership in leading the team to a 16-0 record and fourth straight Central Division championship.”
-- Pat Donnelly, U-D Jesuit coach, talking about standout guard Cassius Winston
Top games last week
(Girls) Detroit Country Day 37, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep 33: Defending Class B state champion Country Day rallied from a 19-point third-quarter deficit to defeat Arbor Prep (15-2). Junior guard Destiny Pitts scored nine of her 13 points during the second half for Country Day (16-1).
Detroit East English 71, Detroit Northwestern 70: Jaylin McFadden’s steal and score with two seconds left was the difference in East English’s win in a PSL semifinal Friday. Senior guard Kamari Newman led East English (15-3) with 28 points, including 10 during a 10-2 run at the end of the first half to cut Northwestern’s lead to 40-37. Kylan Shipp scored 24 for Northwestern (12-4), picking Newman’s pocket and going the length of the floor for a layup and 70-68 lead with 25 seconds left.
Top games this week
Detroit East English (15-3) vs. Detroit Renaissance (15-2), 7 p.m. Friday, at Calihan Hall: East English and Renaissance will battle it out for the PSL championship. East English defeated Renaissance, 61-50, in late January without 6-5 center Cedric Lattimore, who was taking his official visit (football) at Iowa. Kamari Newman and Greg Elliott each scored 16 for East English, which led 12-0 and forced 16 turnovers.
(Girls) Detroit King (15-1) vs. Detroit Renaissance (14-3), 5 p.m. Friday, at Calihan Hall: Defending PSL champion King suffered its lone loss this season to Renaissance, 68-65 back in December. King is led by DePaul-bound guard Micaela Kelly. Renaissance is led by Penn State-bound guard Siyeh Frazier and has become even more dangerous since adding guard Brittany Hill — a transfer from Pershing — to the lineup.