Detroit Cass Tech, 2-time defending PSL champion, sidelined because of COVID-19

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Detroit Cass Tech won’t get the opportunity to defend its PSL boys basketball championship, as positive COVID-19 cases in the program have sent it to the sidelines.

It’s also possible Cass Tech’s season could be over, with a district quarterfinal set for March 23 to open the state tournament.

Coach Steve Hall's Detroit Cass Tech boys basketball team is out of the PSL playoffs because of positive COVID-19 cases.

Cass Tech — 13-1 and ranked No. 18 in The News Super 20 — was the two-time defending PSL champ, winning the league tournament title three times in the last four years.

“We had kids test positive," Cass Tech coach Steve Hall said. "I’m not sure what our status is for districts. I know it’s a 10-day period, and I’m not sure where we are regarding that. It’s still being determined, to be honest with you.

“We’re the two-time defending PSL champions ...  We haven’t lost a PSL game in the league or tournament in almost three years, so we take the term defending champion seriously. This is common ground for us, something that we’re used to.

“We felt confident, give up 39 points a game and we believe we’re the standard in the PSL and we didn’t get a chance to go down on our sword. I respect the severity of the pandemic, but I also know that no one dethroned us. From a competitive standpoint, we’re 13-1, won eight straight games and know what it’s like to be a champion, so it’s heartbreaking.”

The pandemic ended Cass Tech’s shot at the Division 1 state championship last winter. Cass Tech was No. 5, ready to face top-ranked River Rouge in a district title game when the season was shut down.

“You’re in a powerless situation that could happen to anybody,” Hall said. “We didn’t do anything wrong. We didn’t do anything wrong last year. I guess it’s fate.

“And, the thing is you can’t do anything, not only are you shut down, you can’t prepare, you can’t practice or condition. You don’t have the ability to prepare yourself for moving forward. That’s also taken away from you.”

Cass Tech was set to compete in the state’s toughest district, playing in a district at Grosse Pointe North with No. 5 Detroit King and No. 6 Hamtramck also in the field, along with Grosse Pointe South and host North.

A Cass Tech-King showdown was possible. The last time the teams had played was in the 2019 district opener, a 55-51 double-overtime win by King.

King, an upset victim the last two years in the PSL playoffs, enters as the team to beat, playing host to Western at 4 p.m. Tuesday. with the winner facing the winner of Tuesday’s Denby-Henry Ford game in Thursday’s 4 p.m. semifinal at Cass Tech.

In other quarterfinals, Douglass and Michigan State-bound guard Pierre Brooks II plays CMA at Cass Tech at 4 p.m. Tuesday, while Renaissance plays host to Pershing with the winners playing in Thursday’s 6 p.m. semifinal at Cass Tech.

The title game is 6 p.m. Saturday at Renaissance.