Detroit Pershing was ripe for an upset. It defeated Detroit King 87-78 during the regular season but that game was played at Pershing. Those who watched that game knew if that game was played at a neutral site the outcome might have been different.
I’m the first to admit that I thought Pershing would win its third Detroit Public School League title in the past four seasons on Thursday but I wasn’t shocked it didn’t.
In Pershing’s 76-65 semifinal victory over Detroit Southeastern, Pershing did not play well after the first quarter. It led 26-11 late in the quarter and then seemed content to coast. That’s a bad habit. Good teams can become complacent. Perhaps Pershing peaked too soon. Playing a difficult schedule Pershing defeated Romulus by 15 points and went to Lansing and defeated Lansing Sexton 81-80. That’s Sexton’s only loss.
Pershing lacked continuity on Thursday. Martez Walker, one of the state’s top juniors, didn’t start the game and entered with 4:30 left in the first quarter. He never got into a flow and finished with seven points.
King was hungry. It held a 32-35 edge in rebounds and took the play to Pershing after falling behind 30-21 with three minutes left in the first half.
Pershing took the loss hard. The coaching staff and team left the court almost immediately after the game. PSL officials had to delay the post-game award presentation until coach A.W. Canada and his team returned.
Don’t count Pershing out of the race for the Class A title. Coach Carlton Valentine of Sexton said Pershing was due for a loss and maybe he’s right. Last season Sexton was 17-0 before it lost two straight. Valentine’s team re-focused and went on to win the Class B title.