Martin Luther King High coach William Winfield had won an incredible 15th Detroit Public School League championships. Now he has 16 titles.
Against the Pershing Doughgirls, King evened a score, avenging a 58-53 regular season loss and improving its record to 17-2 while the Doughgirls fell to 16-2.
All acknowledge that life is ever changing, so the recent dominance of Renaissance High Girls left King in the forgotten zone. But Winfield, who retired from teaching, has rejuvenated himself and the King’s legendary girls program.
Winfield and his King Ladies overcame Pershing’s Miss PSL, Caprice Dennis, in a 50-47 victory at Calihan Hall on the campus of the University of Detroit Mercy campus.
It was King’s first city title since 2006, and ended a seven-game losing streak to Pershing. Leading the way for King was reserve Takira Height, who tossed in 18 off the bench. The 6-foot-1 junior shot 7-for-9 (4-of-5 from 3-point range).
“I knew I just had to play my best and help my team,” Height told reporters after the game, “and look at us, just look at us … we won it. I’ve been waiting for this for three years.”
Concurred Winfield: “She’s been shooting the ball well in practice. We were struggling and decided to put her in. She hit a couple and we decided to roll with it and see what she could do.”
Not only did Height score, she also helped hold Dennis to six points.
“I was just concentrating on not letting her get by me,” Height said. “If you get in her face, she’ll pass the ball and won’t shoot. We just tried to stay in her face all night and not double team.”
Added Winfield: “The last time we doubled her (Dennis), and the last time we shut her down, the other girls got loose. We decided we would play her heads-up and help if we could. Height did an excellent job. We’ve been waiting on Height to do that for two years now. Height has long arms and did an excellent job (defensively) against Caprice. We just wanted her to stay in front of her and alter her shot. She couldn’t shoot over her. I’m just proud of her.”
King’s Antania Hayes, one of the top juniors in the state, was held to five points on 2-for-11 shooting, Height rose to the occasion. Likewise, Pershing junior guard Nijzah Hill did her best to keep her team close, scoring 27 (6-for-15 from 3-point range).
King High got to the title game by beating Cass Tech 48-36, while Pershing overcame Mumford 80-77 in the semifinals of the Big D girls’ tournament at Western International High School.
King has lost to Pershing in the playoffs the past two seasons, so it was sweet revenge for the Lady Crusaders and before an estimated 3,000 fans the Ladies help complete an incredible PSL Basketball sweep for King High as the boys also won the title.
The girls’ Operation Friendship game is slated for Thursday, Feb. 23, at Dearborn Divine Child. Pershing’s girls will play the Catholic League runner-up in the 5 p.m. consolation game, followed by King vs. the Catholic League champion at 7 p.m. in the title game.