Posted On: 01/19/18 11:37 AM
The 8th annual Horatio Williams Freedom Classic was like the previous seven, it did not disappoint. Like every other basketball event organized by Horatio Williams it was filled with the state’s top talent. For the first time since 2012, this event also featured a girls matchup with Detroit Edison against Wayne Memorial, arguably the two top teams in the state. Despite that game not being covered in this article, that matchup did not disappoint. It even drew a larger crowd than some of the boys games.
The third game of the day was the strong Detroit Edison against a crafty Warren De La Salle. Like the previous matchup, we are without a future college player. Detroit Edison and LIU Brooklyn commit, Gary Solomon was not present in this contest. Regardless of Solomon’s absence, there was still Edison’s Pierre Mitchell and Deante Johnson who are committed to Central Michigan and Cleveland State as well as De La Salle’s Justin Fischer who’s committed to Lake Superior State. This contest’s first quarter consisted of both teams showing good ball movement and tough defense. But the rims were pretty tight during this first quarter. After one, the score 10-6 in favor of De La Salle with a combined 7 made field goals for both teams.
De La Salle’s Fischer is well known mitten-wide for not only his scoring ability, but his incredible court vision. The crafty floor general, is extremely deceptive with the rock. As De La Salle looked to pull away, Edison turned it on. Mitchell’s back to back buckets and an Edison triple brought the game back to one possession. Edison ended the half on a 9-0 run to tie up the game at 21 a piece. Mitchell had a 9 point half. Easton Sikorski with 5, Fischer, Luke Pfromm, Blain Flanigan, and Jordan Winowiecki all added 4 for De La Salle.
The third quarter was very similar to the first. Strong ball movement and high intensity defense by both teams. The game was getting chippy. Mitchell was playing extremely well finishing around the rim over bigger defenders. Edison’s junior stud, Brian Taylor also showed his stroke, hitting a triple and getting to the basket and finishing. Pfromm did the same for De La Salle and the game was knotted up at 34 at the end of three.
As Warren Fitzgerald’s gymnasium continued to fill in, the intensity continued as well. Taylor added a quick five points in the opening two minutes of the quarter with De La Salle responding. De La Salle’s program is deep and filled with many wings who possess size and strong IQs. A Fischer drive and a Sikorski three gave De La Salle back the lead but Mitchell quickly answered with a triple of his own. De La Salle gained possession with about a minute left and held until the final 10 seconds. Their missed triple attempt was rebounded by Edison’s Taylor who went up for a layup that was blocked out of bounds. Edison inbounded the ball to Taylor with 4.9 seconds left. He went up for a layup but was fouled with 3.6 seconds left. He hit both of the attempts from the charity stripe. De La Salle’s called a timeout and made a full court pass to Pfromm then immediately called another time out. With .7 seconds coming off the clock they advanced the ball to their side of the court. Out of the time out they inbounded the ball and hit an open Pfromm at the left wing. Pfromm knocked it down as time expired. De La Salle won 47-46. Pfromm was their only player to reach double figures in scoring with 15 points. Fischer, Sikorski, and Winowiecki all added 8 a piece and all played extremely well. Fischer distributed the ball well and played tough defense. Mitchell added 20 and Taylor had 12 for Edison.
This fourth game of the day between Detroit Pershing and Clarkston was probably the most anticipated game of the day. The last time that Clarkston played a Detroit Public School team they lost, which is their only loss this season to East English. This game is also Clarkston’s first game since learning that their star big man, Thomas Kithier would be ineligible for the entire season due to his transfer being deemed “athletically motivated” by the MHSAA. Both of these teams are arguably the two most historic basketball teams in state history. Both teams have uncommitted senior studs with Clarkston’s CJ Robinson and Pershing’s DJuan Seal. The first bucket of game was a deep three from the Michigan State commit and Clarkston guard, Foster Loyer. Seal then scored Pershing’s first five with a flashy finish and a triple. Robinson contributed his fair share with a pair of triples early on. In a game that looked to possibly give Clarkston their second loss of the season started off the exact opposite. Clarkston held an 18-5 lead in the first six minutes. Loyer and Robinson both showed their strong scoring ability and court vision. Robinson’s short stature is made up by his quick release on offense and his quick speed and footwork on defense. The quarter was concluded with a Loyer triple. Clarkston held a 25-9 lead and Loyer had 11 after one.
Clarkston’s third big ten commit… yes you read that correctly. Big man and Wisconsin commit, Taylor Currie contributed well down low on both ends of the floor. Loyer continued to score but Pershing was very resilient with fighting back. Seal and fellow senior big, Jaylyn Benning did a good job attacking the paint and keeping their team alive. But strong shooting from Loyer and Robinson increased their lead. Clarkston held a 43-25 lead. Loyer and Robinson had 21 and 15 at half respectively.
The third quarter was low scoring compared to the first two for both teams. Pershing’s motor kept on fighting as the tough defense by Seal, Ron Hill, and Paire Hill continued. Pershing’s physicality and tough defense kept them, alive in this contest. As the game continued, Loyer continued to show his limitless range, pulling up from just within the volleyball line. Loyer had his lowest scoring quarter of the game(9 points). Loyer hit a step back three to end the quarter to give him 29 for the game and a 22 point lead for his Clarkston wolves
Throughout the contest Pershing showed strong defense on ball screens. Their players hedged correctly and didn’t switch back until both players involved were ready. Currie continued his strong post play in the fourth and it was evident that this game was just about over. Clarkston won the ball game with a final score of 84-50. Loyer finished with 36 points while Currie and Robinson added 15 points and 16 points. For Pershing, Ron Hill and Seal both added 11 points.
The fifth and final game of the night consisted of Detroit Renaissance taking on Flint Beecher. Renaissance is led by their deadly junior front court of Carrington McCaskill and Chandler Turner. Beecher is led by their deadly sophomore back court of EJ Sanders and Jalen Terry. Both teams also have two of the top freshman in the state on their varsity team. Beecher’s Keyon Menifield Jr. and Renaissance’s Keon Henderson both getting significant minutes. Henderson runs his program’s offense and is a very strong defender. The first quarter was low scoring yet thrilling. Both teams brought physicality and intensity right off the jump. A Terry first quarter steak turned into a Sanders stuff within seconds. Despite the sophomore guards good play, they faced a 13-9 deficit after the break. This is mostly credited to the strong post defense by Renaissance.
The first bucket of the game was a flashy finish from none other than Terry giving him 7 points on the night. He is a very unselfish player and still a strong scorer. McCaskill made a big impact early on as well on both ends of the floor. Blocking shots and keeping a hand in the passing lane on defense and knocking down two first half triples on offense. When no one else could score for Renaissance, Cortez Garland stepped up. The senior guard showed that he could shoot from beyond the perimeter as well as attack the basket. At the half, Renaissance held a 34-29 advantage. Garland led all scorers with 14.
Beecher started the second half on a 10-2 run with 5 coming from Sanders. Sanders was carrying the load for his quad scoring wise but Garland and McCaskill continued to answer. McCaskill has improved on his shooting since 2017 and it has definitely showed in this contest. After the third, Renaissance’s lead was cut down to one. They were led by Garland with 20 and McCaskill with 14.
For being a high school basketball player, Jalen Terry has an impressively high IQ. It makes it even more impressive that he’s only a sophomore. Sky’s the limit for Terry. Garland and McCaskill continued to control the game, both scoring down low. Renaissance controlled in the final minutes and Beecher could not come back. Renaissance won the contest with a score of 75-63.
Garland led Renaissance with 25 points and McCaskill added 18 points and 11 rebounds. For Beecher, their sophomore backcourt contributed with a majority of their scoring with Terry and Sanders combining for 44 points.