Detroit — All Detroit Edison head coach Brandon Neely wanted was for his team to be relevant in the city of Detroit.
Well, mission accomplished.
Edison (10-8) put on an impressive performance in the Detroit Public School League championship game Friday night at Calihan Hall, dominating Detroit Pershing, 82-45, to avenge a pair of earlier losses.
“I think we’re relevant. I think they know us now,” Neely said after celebrating Edison’s first PSL championship. “We saw some things (from previous games) that gave us a lot of confidence coming into this game, what we thought would really work and rattle them. We just didn’t want them to run their sets. We thought we did a pretty good job of just letting them scramble around and that was our goal.”
And, Edison senior guard Pierre Mitchell was the best player on the floor, making sure his team would get off to a good start.
Mitchell, who will play next year at Central Michigan, finished with 19 points. He was in attack mode from the opening tip, making his first five shots in the opening quarter to help Edison take a 21-18 lead.
“It was a close game and Coach (Neely) pushed me to do better and that’s what I did, I stepped up,” said Mitchell. “In the second quarter it was all defense. At halftime, all we talked about was that we had to go and keep playing hard and that’s what we did. I’m just proud of my team. I’m so happy right now.”
Edison turned the heat up defensively during the second quarter and Mitchell kept attacking, opening the quarter with a three-point play in transition, followed by a putback basket by senior forward Keith Johnson and a 3-pointer by Mitchell to open up a 29-18 cushion with 6:50 left in the half.
And, it didn’t end there as Edison held Pershing (9-9) scoreless during the final 6:10 after D’Juan Seal’s 3-pointer and went on a 11-0 run for a 42-23 halftime lead.
Edison had multiple players step up during the pivotal run. Senior guard Dominyck Thomas came off the bench to knock down a long-range shot for a 34-23 lead. Deante Johnson took an alley-oop pass from Keith Johnson for a slam and Deante Johnson followed with a putback to open up 38-23 cushion.
It didn’t help that Pershing couldn’t make a free throw during this stretch. In the final 3:30 of the half, Pershing missed six straight free throws, including the front end of two one-and-one situations.
No doubt, Thomas had to be thrilled Neely talked him to coming back after he quit the team in late December after a win over Southfield Christian.
Thomas was benched for six games after coming back, but his practice paid off during that time as he came in during the second half of the 50-48 semifinal win over Detroit Renaissance Tuesday, making a 3-pointer for a 46-43 lead.
Well, Thomas showed his skills during the third quarter of the title game to put the game away, scoring 11 of his 18 points during an 84-second stretch midway through the third quarter to open up a 59-27 lead.
Thomas started the barrage with a three-point play followed by a short jumper off a turnover and a pair of 3-pointers.
“I felt it before (scoring barrage), but today it felt real special because we made history,” Thomas said.
Cleveland State-bound Gary Solomon scored 14 for Edison, while Keith Johnson scored 13 and Deante Johnson had eight points and eight rebounds.
Pershing coach Wydell Henry celebrated with the ultimate trophy the previous times his team made the final, earning consecutive championships in 2013 and 2014. It wasn’t in the cards this time around.
Now, Edison will enter March with confidence, holding the title as PSL champions while knowing what it takes to play deep into the state tournament following its Class C state semifinal run a year ago.