Taking the lead from its girls team, the boys team from Detroit Martin Luther King (15-4) pulled off the second Detroit Public School League (PSL) upset in the boys basketball championships.
King’s 76-69 victory over top-ranked Detroit Pershing at Calihan Hall helped produce an unprecedented double-double with both the girls and boys winning PSL basketball titles.
Leading the way for King was a 6-2 senior, Malik Albert, who scored 16 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter to ignite King’s first boys’ PSL basketball championship since 1999.
Albert missed his first five field-goal attempts and was held scoreless until 2:24 remained in the first half. But Albert wasn’t worried.
“I knew I was going to start hitting eventually,” he told reporters. “That’s why I kept shooting. I just had to keep my mindset. I couldn’t get frustrated. I knew I was going to start to heat up.”
With the victory the Crusaders avenged a regular season 11 point loss to Detroit Pershing in the regular season.
By all accounts the key play of the game came with underdog King leading the No. 1 team in the state by two points with 1:30 left. Pershing’s Walker had the ball and an open lay-up ahead of him when Albert rose and blocked the shot.
“That was crucial,” an elated Albert said, “I had to go get it. I try to do everything out there. My coach (Brooks) is always on me about rebounding and defense.”
He did get the block and controlled the rebound too. He then blasted down the court to feed William Abbott for a thundering dunk, with the Doughboys faithful screaming in full vocal harmony.
“I thought we did a good job of covering spaces today,” said King coach Pierre Brooks. “Pershing did make a few, but I think they missed more than they made, so that was in our favor.”
King held Pershing’s top two scorers in check. Senior Sherron Dorsey-Walker, who is headed to Iowa State next fall, scored 12 points and junior Martez Walker had seven. Veyon Bentley led Pershing (18-1) with 18 points and Kahlil Felder scored 16, but the Crusaders quieted Pershing’s big guns.
While Albert was tremendous, he wasn’t King’s only star. Abbott added 12 points (and 13 rebounds) and Marquawn Armstrong 11 as the Crusaders were able to hold their own on the boards.
“I was even more impressed with Abbott,” Brooks said. “I thought he was our backbone today. In the beginning of the season he barely played, but he kept fighting, coming to practice and working hard.”
King will play in the boys’ Operation Friendship game scheduled for Thursday, March 1, at Cass Tech High School. Pershing will play the Catholic League runner-up at 5 p.m., and the Crusaders will play the Catholic League champion at 7 p.m.