Class C final: Detroit Edison powers to second straight crown
Grand Rapids — Rickea Jackson helped Detroit Edison avenge its lone loss by leading the way to a 51-34 victory over Ypsilanti Arbor Prep Saturday afternoon at Van Noord Arena to repeat as Class C state champions.
Jackson, a 6-foot-3 junior who is considered to be a front-runner for next year’s Miss Basketball award, had a double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) with four blocks, but made just 5-of-20 shots.
Sophomore guard Gabrielle Elliott scored 20, including 10 during the pivotal third quarter when Edison built an 18-point lead. She made 8-of-12 shots while the rest of her teammates struggled from the floor (11-for-45, 24.5 percent).
It was the first time two charter schools were playing for a state championship in any sport. Arbor Prep (21-6) defeated Edison 55-49 back on Jan. 11 with Miss Basketball finalist Lasha Petree limiting Jackson to a season-low eight points.
And, it was Petree who was on attack mode from the start in the rematch, scoring seven during a game-opening 10-2 run 51/2 minutes into the game while playing strong defense once again on Jackson.
But, Edison (24-1) — which missed nine of its first 10 shots — got back in the game with the use of its fullcourt pressure, forcing three straight turnovers to pull within 11-8 at the end of the quarter with Jackson scoring off of two putbacks.
“We got off to a slow start and had a lot of nerves and we knew in the back of our heads that Arbor Prep was the only team we lost to this year and I think it was sitting with us and gave us some anxiety at the start,” Edison coach Monique Brown said. “We had a game plan to apply a lot of pressure. We noticed in the first game that we did apply pressure, but we didn’t finish by making layups or free throws. Today we applied the pressure and finished.”
Lasha Petree scored off a driving layup and her sister Mahri Petree followed with two free throws to extend the lead to 15-8 before Shaulana Wagner came off the bench to give Edison a big boost.
With her team shooting just 3-of-23 from the field and Jackson, 3-of-13, Wagner led a 15-2 run to give Edison a 23-17 lead with three minutes left in the half.
Wagner, who was the hero in last year’s 46-44 Class C state championship game win over Pewamo-Westphalia when she blocked a shot with three seconds left, started the pivotal run off a putback, then found Gabrielle Elliott for a layup and scored off another putback to give Edison a 16-15 lead.
“She told me at the beginning of the season that she didn’t have any problem coming in off the bench and I said, OK if we do it you have to be the fire when you come off the bench and she’s taken that role and changed the way we play,” said Brown of Wagner. “She always changes the game and gives us a whole lot more energy.”
Freshman point guard Damiya Hagemann also played a factor during the run, playing strong defense to get steals while making a 3-pointer to open 21-17 lead, followed by Jackson making two free throws for a 23-17 advantage after diving for a loose ball and getting fouled.
“The first quarter rattled us a little bit, but we talked and got it together, we overcame other games when we were down,” Jackson said. “We hold each other accountable and we trust each other so it’s easier for us to get back in the game.”
After leading 27-19 at halftime, Edison increased the intensity on defense and put on a block party in the process.
Edison limited Arbor Prep to 3-of-17 in the third quarter while blocking five shots, three by Jackson, and Edison scored 10 points off of turnovers with Elliott at her best in transition.
Elliott scored 10 third-quarter points, making all four of her shots.
“I was focused on getting another ring and I know that’s what the team was focused on, that and getting Damiya her first,” said Elliott of her play in the third quarter. “Everybody just did their job and the ball came to me.”
Lasha Petree scored 19 before fouling out with 4:01 remaining Arbor Prep trailing 44-32.
Arbor Prep, which shot 18.2 percent (8-of-44) and had 20 turnovers, was making its third straight state championship game appearance, winning the Class C state championship in 2016 before losing to Detroit Country Day in last year’s Class B title game.
It was an outstanding finish to a season where Edison defeated Class A state champion Saginaw Heritage and Detroit Country Day which was playing in the Class B state title game Saturday night.
“They’re highly regarded, they are regarded as the best team in the state and you have to play a great game to beat them and we weren’t perfect today,” said Arbor Prep coach Scott Stine. “We didn’t have the effort to finish the plays in the first half to keep us in the lead.
“In the second half, it got very physical and the fouls didn’t go our way. We really didn’t have our rhythm the whole game and it showed.”