East Lansing – Detroit Edison coach Brandon Neely wanted his team to become relevant in the city of Detroit.
Well, not only did Edison (16-10) win its first PSL championship this season, it capped off the year by winning its first state championship with a 53-38 victory over Maple City Glen Lake in the Class C title game Saturday at the Breslin Center.
Central Michigan-bound point guard Pierre Mitchell made sure of it.
Mitchell came alive in the final 5 1/2 minutes of the third quarter, scoring 14 of his 17 points to help turn a 25-21 deficit into a 39-31 lead.
Mitchell had just scored three points on 1-of-4 shooting before his impressive five-minute stretch where he made 5-of-7 shots from the floor, including 3-of-5 3-pointers and a free throw.
“In the first half I couldn’t make shots and then in the second half my team said, ‘Hey, look man, we’ve got to win,’ and then I just knew I had to win, senior year and I’m about to go off to college,” Mitchell said. “I just wanted to leave my mark. That’s what I had to do.”
Mitchell caused havoc with his quickness while in the press, helping Edison force six turnovers during the pivotal third quarter, scoring two baskets in transition and the three shots from deep range.
In fact, after Mitchell got to a 50-50 ball for a steal and a layup to open the 39-31 lead, Glen Lake coach Rich Ruelas called for a timeout and Neely greeted Mitchell with a leaping chest bump in celebration.
“That’s the whole thing about this game, just the fun and passion,” Neely said. “I’ve known Pierre just about all his life and to see him have a last game of his high school career end well, it’s just exciting and I’m very happy for him.”
Mitchell exited the Final Four in the semifinals the previous two years at Breslin, falling on a last-second shot to Flint Beecher while playing for Detroit Loyola in 2016, then losing to Beecher in another semifinal with Edison last season.
Mitchell said he wasn’t concerned with Edison being a .500 team heading into the postseason.
“We play in the toughest league, the PSL, and we won the PSL championship, and the state run was a little easier than the PSL playoffs,” said Mitchell. “We just had to click at the right time.”
And Edison – which has three Division 1 players in Mitchell, 6-5 Gary Solomon (LIU-Brooklyn) and 6-9 Deante Johnson (Cleveland State) – clicked at the right time to defeat Glen Lake and its tough zone, with Mitchell knocking down the 3-pointers in the third quarter.
Then, Solomon got going in the fourth, scoring six of his 16 points, including a layup off a steal in transition, then slamming in a dunk in transition to close a 14-0 run for Edison’s largest lead at 47-31 with three minutes left.
Johnson had a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds) for Edison and Brian Taylor Jr. scored 10.
Edison became the first team since Marquette Baraga (Class D, 1969) to enter the state tournament with a .500 record or worse and win a state championship.
Maple City Glen Lake (24-3) received a strong effort from junior Xander Okerlund (19 points, seven rebounds) and 6-6 senior Cade Peterson (12 points, 10 rebounds).
Peterson went down with an ankle injury with five minutes left and the game even at 25. He went to the locker room for treatment. When he re-entered the game to start the fourth quarter his team trailed 39-31.
“It didn’t finish how we wanted it to, but these guys are champions and they will always be champions,” Ruelas said. “Cade was our rock this year and led us every step of the way. He’s such a competitor and we feed off him.
“We were right there with them, down by one at the half, then in the third quarter Cade gets injured and No. 1 (Mitchell) hits four (actually three) threes, and that’s a team that can pour on points in a hurry. I thought we did a pretty good job up until that point.”
Ruelas felt Peterson’s injury definitely made a difference.
“He does it all, rebounds, defends, scores, attacks, and he’s our leader on the floor,” said Ruelas of Peterson.
Said Peterson: “I just went up for a rebound and don’t know if I went down on a kid’s foot or something. I couldn’t really move it.”