Horatio Williams Freedom Classic Games Recap

19 Jan

Justin-Tillman-photoThe Horatio Williams Foundation’s 4th annual Freedom Classic Games was dominated once again by the Detroit Public Schools League, going 5-1 in games on the day.  The day featured a game being decided on a buzzer beater, one with the outcome decided with 2 seconds to play, and a 40 point performance by a Mr. Basketball candidate.  Overall, it was another successful showcase that featured some the best talent Michigan has to offer.


Detroit Renaissance 44 Warren Fitzgerald 28

Detroit Southeastern 54 Southfield 51

Detroit Western 66 Detroit Country Day 64

Detroit Cass Tech 75 Flint Beecher 47

Warren De La Salle 49 Detroit Frederick Douglass 44

Detroit Pershing 84 Ann Arbor Huron 75


Detroit Southeastern’s Ean Blackwell is starting to become a solid point guard for the Jungaleers.  Only a sophomore and standing at 5’9″, Blackwell played clutch all game long for SE, contributing 14 points in the winning effort, including 4 three pointers.  Ean hit the game winner as time expired to give Southeastern its third win in the week.  Compared to other games this year in the past, Ean did a fantastic job of playing within himself managing the offense.  He doesn’t have to be a playmaker all the time with seniors Leonard Harper-Baker and Darryl Bingham in the front court, but if he continues to improve up to February, the Jungaleers could make a long run for a city or state title.

Southfield was led junior guard  Howard McInnis with a game high 26 points.  The third time for me seeing the Blue Jays play brought another solid performance from McInnis.  The one thing McInnis knows how to do on the basketball court is score the ball.  Whether it be hitting six three pointers, or scoring in the lane with a few floaters, McInnis provided instant offense and single handedly kept Southfield in the game.

Detroit Western has a gem in 5’8″ sophomore point guard Brailen Neely.  Neely can pass the ball as well as anyone in Michigan’s 2016 class, but today, he showed the ability to put the team on his back and be the scorer.  He had a game high 27 points, including the game winning 8-foot floater with two seconds left to give Western (1-7) the upset win over defending Class B champion Country Day.  Brailen has always been a solid three point shooter, having three in the game, but what was impressive is that he found other ways to score the ball, such as getting into the lane and eventually the foul line.  The Cowboys will rely heavily on Neely if they wish to salvage their season and become the contenders many though they would be in the PSL’s division one.

Continuing with the theme of sophomore point guards, Warren De La Salle’s Chris Rollins isn’t as known as other top guards in his class, but if he continues the play he has had to start the season, Rollins will no doubt pick up recruiting attention heading into the AAU season.  Rollins is not going to impress you with one-on-one individual skills in the half-court set, but he’s a fundamentally sound high IQ lead guard that knows how to play the game right.  He pushed the ball on the break throughout the night, did as well as a job anybody can do with guarding Dayton commit Darrell Davis holding him to 14 points, and hit crucial free-throws for De La Salle in the fourth quarter to put the game away.

Keith Appling was the last Pershing Doughboy to win Michigan’s Mr. Basketball award during the 2009-2010 season, and 6’7″ forward VCU commit Justin Tillman made a step in the right direction becoming the state’s lead front-runner to win the award this season.  Tillman recorded a triple double, scoring almost half of his teams 84 points with 40 of his own, hauling down 18 rebounds, and swatting ten shots.  Justin was too long and athletic all night long for Huron’s front court players, and with his high motor and never giving up on any play mentality, the River Rats probably would’ve needed 6 players on the court to stop Tillman.  At this point, it will only be icing on the cake for Tillman’s Mr. Basketball possibilities if the Doughboys win both the city and state titles.

One Response to “Horatio Williams Freedom Classic Games Recap”

  1. Joseph Frye January 20, 2014 at 9:37 am #

    Steve who is the front runner in the PSL? J0#@King82

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