Detroit — Dominyck Thomas made the most of his opportunity, coming off the bench to knock down a big 3-pointer to help Edison defeat Renaissance 50-48 in a PSL semifinal Tuesday night at Cass Tech to advance to its first championship game.
Edison (9-8) will face Pershing (9-8) — yes, a pair of Class C teams —Friday night at Calihan Hall in the title game.
Renaissance (11-6) had a chance to tie or win the game in the final seconds. After a timeout with five seconds left, standout 6-foot-6 junior guard Chandler Turner inbounded the ball in front of his own bench, got the ball back and his driving layup missed the mark with 6-7 Carrington McCaskill’s tip too hard, bouncing harmlessly off the rim.
The frantic final minute had Edison missing the front end of two 1-on-1 free throws to keep Renaissance in the game, and Turner missed a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left and teammate Cortez Garland a driving layup with 15 seconds remaining.
McCaskill finished with 19 points and Turner, 13.
Edison’s trio of 6-4 Gary Solomon (Cleveland State), point guard Pierre Mitchell (Central Michigan) and 6-8 Deante Johnson (LIU-Brooklyn) combined for 32 points with Solomon and Mitchell each scoring 11 and Johnson, 10 points and five blocks.
But, it was Thomas who made the pivotal 3-pointer to put Edison in the lead for good with 5:50 left, knocking down a jumper from the left corner for a 46-43 lead, and Solomon followed with a transition basket for a 48-43 cushion a minute later.
Thomas, a senior guard, quit the team after a win over Southfield Christian Dec. 28, but Edison coach Bo Neely persuaded him to come back and the move paid off for both of them.
Neely brought Thomas back and let him practice with the team, but sat him on the bench the last six games until the second half of the PSL semifinal.
“I came in during the middle of the third quarter,” said Thomas. “It was a really fast paced game and I came in to knock down open shots like I do in practice and I just brought my game. What this does for the school is put us on the map.”
So, why did Thomas quit?
“I didn’t feel like I was getting the playing time that I needed, just was facing adversity and I just gave up,” explained Thomas who finished with those three points. “He (Neely) encouraged me to come back to the team so I came back. He sat me for six games, but put me in tonight and it meant a lot to me that Coach cared for me, cared enough to bring me back to the team. I’ve got love for him.”
Said Neely: “We’re sitting on the bench and we said we need someone in there that’s a threat to hit a shot. He had some issues early in the season and quit. I talked him into coming back. He’s sitting there six games since he’s been back, I freeze him out and don’t let him play, but I told him you never know when you’ll get another opportunity.
“I told him you never give up, you never quit. He’s been busting his tail in practice, showing up early, having a positive attitude so I’m thrilled he had the opportunity to help us. We have an upstart program, trying to be relevant in Detroit and we think this makes us relevant.”
Edison advanced to the Class C state semifinals at the Breslin Center last year, and now plans to leave Calihan Hall holding the city championship trophy.