Tag Archives: Western

Western Crowned Champions in Class A

28 Mar

CBNBnMMUcAAmdA6.jpg-large“Cream always rises to the top, you can shake it up however you want, before the game is over,” said Detroit Western head coach Derrick McDowell, “ball players usually rise to the surface.”

McDowell’s Cowboys did the rise to the top in Class A, and have plenty of ball players.

Western, 26-0, withstood multiple Saginaw Arthur Hill spurts to capture the school’s first ever basketball state championship.

In the biggest game of his life, senior Josh McFolley felt some discomfort in his leg.  His Cowboys were in the midst of a back-and-forth dog fight with Arthur Hill in the third quarter.  Josh re-entered the game, and with his team up 33-32 with under three minutes before the fourth.  McFolley scored the team’s next eight points to conclude the period.  The energy the Cowboys would ride into the fourth.

“I wasn’t going to let any little soreness get me,” said McFolley.  “I knew my team needed me.”

Fellow senior Gerald Blackshear was the recipient of three McFolley assists in the early fourth, as the Cowboys built a commanding 13 point lead at one point.

Arthur Hill would not lie down lightly, but the Lumberjacks could not get the deficit below four.  Western had a response for every Arthur Hill charge  All-state senior guard Eric Davis fouled out of the game on an and-one with 1:34.  SAH did however cut the deficit to as low as four at one point, but junior guard Karim Murray connected on four free-throws in the final minutes to secure the Cowboy hardware.  Dequavion Johnson did hit a three with 12.1 left to place the Hill down four, but the Lumberjacks lost all their timeouts in the process before so.

McFolley paced Western with a team-high 19 points, to go along with six steals, Blackshear added 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Murray contributed 15 points.

“We got production from a lot of people,” added McDowell.

Brian Bowen led the Hill with 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Texas bound Eric Davis concluded his stellar high school career with 15 points and six rebounds.

The win for McDowell hands the veteran coach his first state championship.  Coach McDowell has always been respected in Detroit basketball.  Before his current position at Western, McDowell won multiple city titles as the head man for Detroit Redford.  McDowell noted he often use to share his glory day Redford stories with his team during the season, but not anymore.

“This is my fourth time here, and I finally got it,” he added.  “I’m done with the Redford stories, it’s on to the McFolley, Blackshear, and Neely stories.”

Lost in the press of the day was junior guard Brailen Neely.  He scored just eight points, but at times during the year served at the Cowboys leading scorer, and facilitator.  Neely has seen both the good and bad of Cowboy basketball.  A three-year varsity player, Neely is astonished with the growth of the program.

“It was a process,” said Neely of getting to where he’s at today.  “Freshman year, we we’re young, we had 1 senior, we had a lot of growing to do.  Next year, we thought we had it.  We wasn’t really listening and it showed in our game.  This year we were all on Coach McDowell page.”

The 2014-2015 season for Western can be divided into two ways, before January, and after January.  Before January, the aforementioned McFolley and Blackshear could not participate following transfers from Mt. Clemens.  Despite not having two division one recruits on the floor, Western stood strong, 9-0.  Contrary to popular belief, Coach McDowell was adamant about his belief Western was a state championship contender without Josh and Gerald.

“I had all the pieces anyway, those were just extra pieces,” McDowell said.  “We weren’t looking for them to come in and be Batman and Robin.  We had enough to win.”

Coach McDowell’s persona on the sideline is of a strict general, however, his players finally managed to force their coach show some emotion.  When it was for certain his team would receive the trophy, he displayed the often unknown lighter side of him.  To the joyous reception of his players.


Ford and Western Represent PSL In East Lansing

28 Mar

2d725adFor the first time in a league with as much decorated tradition as the Detroit Public School League holds, 2015 might be the most historic.  Two teams will represent the league in East Lansing for state championships, Western in Class A, and Henry Ford in Class B.

Western, the state’s number one ranked team, won the city championship this season, and have met few teams that can match the Cowboys’ combination of depth, height, and skill.

Ford on the other hand certainly has had to claw and fight their way to Michigan State’s campus.  The Trojans went just 5-4 in league, which included a 72-55 setback to Western January 27th.  In the playoffs, however, Ford has played with greater poise and confidence.  After narrow wins against both CMA and Community in the district tournament, Ford outlasted defending Class C champion Consortium, and Class B first ranked New Haven in consecutive games to secure a spot in East Lansing.

bildeThe opportunity present for the schools is also significant because of the coaches that roam the sidelines, Western’s Derrick McDowell, and Ford’s Ken Flowers.  Flowers, a ’96 graduate of Detroit Redford, was prepped by McDowell in a Husky uniform.  And when McDowell departed Redford following the 2005 campaign, Flowers assumed the role of head coach until 2007 when the school closed.  Both Flowers and McDowell guided the Huskies to two separate Class A final four appearances, ’04 and ’07.

Flowers admits the transition was difficult from Redford to Ford, considering the two were bitter west side rivals for years in the city.  Still Flowers has been able to break lines which use to divide both schools and communities, but believes basketball extends far beyond the lines.

“It’s a blessing,” said Flowers.  “It’s big for me coming from Redford to Henry Ford.  That community is huge over there.  I’ve been getting e-mails and calls the last two weeks from Henry Ford alumni all the way back to ’71.  It’s amazing how basketball can bring a community together like this.”

Ford plays Godwin Heights Saturday, and Western takes on Arthur Hill.

Western Advances To Regional Semi-Final 65-55 Over East English Village

17 Mar

IMG_0246This is what Josh McFolley came to Western for.  To win and lead.

Last season, McFolley was a key component on a Mt. Clemens team that reached the Class C quarterfinals.  Now as a senior, Josh is the primary leader of a Western team that was once a dormant program of the PSL.

“I’ve been in this position before,” McFolley said of his team’s position in the state tournament.  “I know how to control the team, calm things down a little bit, and the coaches keep us calm too.”

In the team’s 65-55 defeat of East English Village at the Sterling Heights regional semi-final, Josh scored 19 points, hauled in seven rebounds, and assisted on four Cowboy baskets.  For as good as he was, Josh surprisingly didn’t lead the team scoring-wise.  That was held by junior guard Brailen Neely, with a game-high 22 points.

In their short time together, Neely and McFolley have built a strong relationship among one another now reaping rewards on the court.

“We talk about this before every game,” McFolley said of him and Neely.  “Talk about it during practice, what we got to do, ever since day one we’ve been together.  We know we have to work together.”

McFolley struggled in the first-half, connecting on just one of his first five shot attempts.  However, Neely was there to pace Western with 11 points in the opening 16 minutes.

Western held a slim one point advantage at intermission.  Then, it was McFolley’s turn.  Josh scored 11 of the Cowboys’ 21 third quarter points, including six straight at one point.

“I rushed a little bit in the first-half,” McFolley said, “kind of slowed me up a bit.”  “Then the coaches told me just to stay composed and I was expecting it in the second-half too, so I managed to play through it.”

Western knew the game would be an up-and-down affair.  In the first meeting of the year, the two squads combined for 149 points.  Just as it was in January, this game would be dictated by guards.  Three Western Cowboys standing 6’8″ scored just 10 points, and EEVP’s two primary forwards scored combined for 15 points.

The one Bulldog that found any form of success against Western was 6’3″ junior guard Kamari Newman.  Newman scored 22 points, and seven off free-throws.  Yet no other Bulldog scored more than 12 points.

“That was the key,” McDowell added about the team’s defensive strategies.  “Hold the rest down, we knew Kamari (Newman) would get his, but basically hold the rest down.”

A three-ball by Neely gave Western their largest lead of the fourth quarter, 59-48 exactly half-way through the period.  However, a desperation surge by East English placed the Bulldogs down just five with 1:50 in regulation following a Newman three pointer, his only basket of the final stanza.  Despite inconsistent free-throw shooting in the final minutes for Western, EEVP’s could not connect on challenged perimeter jump-shots, the Bulldogs went scoreless on the team’s final five possessions.

East English concludes the year with 16-5 overall record.  The Bulldogs have reason to be optimistic for next season, as just one player graduates from the team’s nine-man rotation.

Western improves their record to 22-0, and have a date with Warren De La Salle Wednesday night in the regional semi-final.  Josh is familiar with De La Salle’s style of play, but remains confident in his Cowboys.

“I know they’re a pretty good team,” he said.  “Pretty scrappy team.  So we just got to play our normal game and continue to play hard and we’ll get the win.”


Western Seizes Operation Friendship 58-49 Against U of D Jesuit

7 Mar

Number one ranked Detroit Western withstood a valiant U of D Jesuit second-half charge to claim the school’s first ever Operation Friendship championship.

Trailing 41-29 with 4:40 remaining in the third quarter, Jesuit junior point guard Cassius Winston decided to do what he does best, make plays.  Winston ignited a 10-2 spurt the next two minutes to close the Cub deficit to as low as four at one point.  Winston scored 10 of team-high 27 points in the third.

“We didn’t do a good job of containing Cassius,” Western head coach Derrick McDowell said.  “We let him roam free, and let him get angles.  You got to stay flat, you can’t shade him.”

Winston’s opponent on the day but Summer AAU teammate, Brailen Neely, matched Winston’s third quarter performance with his own in the fourth.  Neely connected on two threes, and poured eight of Western’s total 13 points in the final period of regulation.  Neely finished with 15 on the afternoon.

Western was able to somewhat nullify Winston in the fourth, only two fellow Cubs scored in the stanza.  Also, no U of D Jesuit player not named Winston scored more than seven points, Cedric Mutebi and Gary Collins each had six.

The Cowboys had greater balance compared to Jesuit.  Senior and U of D Mercy commit Josh McFolley only scored five points in the second-half.  But 16 of his Cowboy-high 21 were in the opening 16 minutes.  Josh has a reputation as a elite three-point shooter, but four-five times on the day beat his man off the dribble and finished at the rim.

“Coaches told me to attack the rim,” said McFolley.  “The last couple games I felt I’ve struggled with my jump shot a little bit.”

The Cowboys have debatably the two best perimeter shooters in their respective classes on the court at the same time.  Coach McDowell likes the opportunities and flexibility to have more than one shooter on the court to challenge defenses.

“When you got McFolley (Josh) going, and then you got Brailen (Neely) going, then you got to pick you poison.”

“You’re finally seeing the flow with Josh (McFolley),” who sat the first semester, “and everybody.  Their both playing off each other.”

For as much guard talent in the game, Western 6’8″ senior center Gerald Blackshear completely dictated the interior.  A future U of D Titan, Gerald scored 14 points and hauled 16 rebounds.  The lone obstacle in Gerald’s path was 6’7″ junior Ike Eke.  Jesuit’s other big Greg Eboigboden suffered an injury with 7:04 left in the first, and left the game immediately, his probability for the playoffs is unknown.  Regardless, Blackshear was able to capitalize against U of D with just one of their 6’7″ sophomores.

“I think I was just playing harder,” Blackshear said following the game.  “They were playing pretty hard, I was just playing harder.  I wanted it more.”

Operation Friendship was re-installed following a one year absence.  Coach McDowell, winner of multiple PSL championships, last appeared in the Operation Friendship as the head man for Detroit Redford during the 2005 campaign.  The event draws teams from two distinct leagues in the Metro-Detroit area, and determines the real city champion.

“I like playing Operation Friendship,” McDowell said, “this was a good game for us.”  “I think it’s good for the Catholic League, I think it’s good for the Public League, it’s good for the city in general.”

Both U of D and Western received first-round district byes in their respective brackets.  U of D (17-3), will play the winner of Mumford/Renaissance Wednesday.  While Western (19-0) takes on the winner of Cass Tech/Pershing Wednesday as well.


Western Holds On To Defeat Renaissance 65-64 For First PSL Title Since 1922

20 Feb

IMG_0135It happened.  For the first time since the inventions of the television, bubble gum, and microwave, the Detroit Western Cowboys are Detroit Public School League champs.  1922 to be exact.

Western, undefeated and ranked number one in the state, had averaged 67 points in contests prior to facing Detroit Renaissance in the city title game.  Fortunately for Coach McDowell’s Cowboys, the team was able adjust to a different tempo than usual.

“At halftime I told them if we’re going to win it, we’re going to win it with our defense.”

Whether it was exceptional defense or poor offensive performances, both teams struggled to find baskets in the opening half.  Renaissance shot a dismal 8-25 from the field, and Western wasn’t much better at 10-25.

“It’s been like that the last three or four games,” McDowell said after the game.  “We just haven’t shot the ball well.”

Renaissance methodically controlled the game in the first half, limiting turnovers, forcing Western to settle for contested perimeter jump shots, and challenging 6’8″ center Gerald Blackshear at the rim.

The Phoenix led 24-23 at half, despite All-City first team member Justin Turner shooting 1-8 from the floor.  Western decided to rotate through guards Brailen Neely, Kyree Boyton, Josh McFolley, and Kareem Murray to wear down Turner.

Renaissance continued to lead by one entering the fourth.  Western needed a play to shift momentum.  Junior guard Armani Tinsley is as quality a sixth man as there is in the state.  Tinsley scored four straight points in less than a minute to begin the fourth, giving the Cowboys 40-37, a lead the Phoenix would not reclaim the remainder of the fourth.  Tinsley finished with 8 points and five rebounds.

“It’s very deep, our bench is very deep,” said senior point guard Josh McFolley.  “So when one goes down, another comes up, so they come up big.”

Western’s largest lead of the fourth was four points.  The fun didn’t start until 1:17 left on the clock, down three, Justin Turner was called for an offensive foul.  Western started to run down the clock, the Phoenix decided to foul McFolley, not their first choice, with 47 seconds remaining.  McFolley missed, Renaissance quickly out-leted the ball to Turner, he drove and scored, Phoenix down one.  With 18.5 seconds left, junior forward Alaric Jackson stumbled upon a Western blunder, Renaissance ball down one.    Western elected to foul twice, the Cowboys were under the limit with four, just enough.  Not a soul in the gym thought Turner would not get the ball.  Turner did, he missed a contested mid-range jumper, Western ball up one, five seconds left.

“It actually looked good, I was scared, I was nervous,” said Brailen Neely, who finished with a team high 14 points.  “It was in the air, a whole bunch of thoughts went through my mind.”

Gerald Blackshear rebounded it, send him to the line.  Blackshear missed.  Phoenix ball down one 1.8 left.  Freshman Jalen Tobias took the inbound, pivoted, and found senior point guard Daryl Smith.  Smith launched it from 40 feet, the ball struck iron, and fell like a feather to the ground.  Game over.

The Cowboys can take a deep breath, their undefeated record remains intact.

“Of course there’s pressure,” Blackshear referred to following the game surrounding his team.  “Because we’re number one, we lose everybody’s like aww man, but they win it’s like oh my God they won.”

McDowell adds his fourth PSL title to his résumé, his first at Western, the previous three came while the head man for Detroit Redford, now closed.

“It’s an extreme honor to win under McDowell because he expects so much out you,” Neely added.  “When you win you feel you met his expectations.”

The win is special for the aforementioned McFolley and Blackshear.  Both have played together throughout high school, previously at Mt. Clemens, and now Western.  The two are so connected, both decided to commit together and attend U of D Mercy for college.  The same court the championship game was played on.

“We were excited about it,” Gerald said about the opportunity to play on the court where he will continue his career on.  “Ever since we got to the championship, we just kept talking about it.”

McFolley is known for offense, his three point shot is his specialty.  However, he only made one shot the entire night, a three, and two free-throws.  While Gerald is the opposite.  Blackshear contributed seven points, but hauled in 12 rebounds, and deflected two shots.  Just his role on the team.

“Defense wins championship, this a championship, defense won.”

Western Defeats Henry Ford 72-55 On Impressive Three Point Shooting

28 Jan

To say Detroit Western is talented would be an understatement.  Yet the ability to win when one if not two key pieces do not play or meet their usually standards separate good teams from great teams.

And Western wants to be a great team.

Detroit Western improved to 11-0 overall and 7-0 in DPS play following a 72-55 victory Tuesday over Detroit Henry Ford.  However, senior guard Josh McFolley played sparingly with a stomach virus.  The U of D Mercy commit went 0-6 from the field, and received no playing time in the fourth quarter. Josh recorded 21 points in the team’s win over East English Village last Friday.  Fellow senior and U of D Mercy commit Gerald Blackshear did not play or seen on the bench with a reported tooth injury.  The 6’8″ Blackshear scored 14 points and recorded 14 rebounds in the EEVP game.

The Cowboys would lead 14-8 after the first eight minutes after junior guard Kareem Murray tallied seven points.  The pivotal moment of the first half occurred when fellow junior guards Armani Tinsley and Kyree Boyton entered the game.  The two accounted for five of the Cowboys’ seven second quarter threes, Kyree with two and Armani with three.  Western was able to stretch their halftime advantage to 39-20.

“I dont think that was part of the plan,” said Tinsley following the game regarding the three-point shooting.  “But you always have to be ready for change-ups, and they also played that zone so we were pretty happy that they did that.   All we had to do was penetrate and kick to the open guy and hit our shots, they made our job easy.”

Ford would fight in the third, closing the deficit to ten with 1:06 left in the quarter, capping a 6-0 run which included a thunderous slam from Western Michigan bound senior Josh Davis.  The Cowboys would respond with an 11-3 run behind an effective five guard lineup at times over the next four minutes into the fourth quarter to coast for victory.

“This one today made a huge statement,” Tinsley said.  “Henry Ford is like our rivals so getting this win was very important to the team.”

Ford’s Davis was held to 13 points on 3-11 shooting.  Trojan point guard and division one recruit James Towns also found his difficulties with the Cowboy defensive plan, a season low four points on 2-5 shooting.

Brailen Neely has been the Cowboy leading scorer throughout much of the early season, he contributed 24 points, and four rebounds.  Kareem Murray had 15 points, but Armani Tinsley and Kyree Boyton both came off the bench for 11 and 16 points respectively.

“Me and Ree (Kyree), we are just always ready when our number is called,” said Tinsley.  “So we got the job done.”

Western has been considered a top five team since the preseason and are currently the number one team in the state.  The Cowboys have only played one game truly as a whole, and Armani doesn’t even think they have all “gelled” yet.  Not the words opposing teams want to hear from an undefeated squad.

“I think the ceiling is high for this team,” Tinsley added.  “Everyone expects to win, and we are not clicked just yet, we’re almost there but a couple more days or games with McFolley and Gerald, then we’ll be where we need to be as one whole.”



Derrick Coleman Day 1 Action

9 Dec

The second annual Derrick Coleman showcase held at Detroit Mumford saw four games of Chicago Public Schools square off against four Detroit area teams.  Last year, Chicago went three and one on the day.  This year however, the script was flipped, Michigan went 3-1.  Here’s a look at the action from the victorious Detroit teams.

King Edges Out Harlan 55-54

Coach George Ward found himself in a tough one against Chicago Harlan in his Detroit King debut.  Tied 52-52 with under thirty to go, Rakeem Beal made 1/2 free-throws to give King a one point lead.  However, on the second, senior Armani Lee came away with one of his team high 10 rebounds to send teammate Jesse Scarber to the line for two more free-throws to put MLK up three.  On Harlan’s ensuing procession, senior Michael Johnson was fouled and granted three shots.  Johnson, the team’s leading scorer with 15 points made the first two, but missed the third.

Senior Armani Lee led King with 31 points and 11 rebounds, including ten in opening quarter of action.

Western Rolls Through Marshall Behind Neely and Tinsley

Detroit Western, the state’s pre-season number three ranked team in the state, had little trouble with Chicago Marshall.  The Cowboys jumped out to a 31-12 half-time advantage, and coasted to the 64-36 victory.

Senior transfers Gerald Blackshear and Josh McFolley were ineligible to play for Western per MHSAA policy.  Regardless, Western was still able to outplay a scrappy Marshall team that went 12-12 a year ago.  Junior point guard Brailen Neely paced Western with 19 points (3 3s), four steals, and 3 assists.  Fellow 11th grade backcourt mate Armani Tinsley chipped in with 14 points and 4 rebounds..  Tinsley was primarily a rotational player in 2013, but the added opportunity to start and play extensive minutes should bode well for the Cowboys depth as the season progresses.

U of D Makes Statement in Upset of Chicago Morgan Park

Morgan Park won last season at the very same Derrick Coleman Classic, 82-69 over Detroit Pershing.  This year, the Mustangs returned with one of the top players in 2015 Marcus LoVett, whose youtube highlights have amassed millions of views.  From the beginning of the contest, the Cubs went straight at LoVett holding him to only nine first half points, after coming into the day fresh off a 32 point performance.

The Cubs led from start to finish, and held a lead at one point in the fourth quarter as large as 18.  U of D also has their own star with as much notoriety as LoVett, junior point guard Cassius Winston.  Winston started  the game strong with 11 points and five rebounds in the opening quarter, nearly 1/3 of his game high 32 points while adding 10 overall rebounds.  Aside from Winston, senior guard Gary Collins added 10 points to go along with four steals, and was primarily assigned with the task to shadow LoVett throughout the majority of the game.  While junior guard Obe Duru scored 11 points off the bench, sophomores Donatus Eke and Greg Eboigboden made their highly anticipated high school debuts.  The two combined for nine points, and hauled down ten rebounds.

Charlie Moore paced Morgan Park with 26 points, while fellow junior Jamal Burton tallied 10 points.  LoVett finished with 17 points and 4 assists.


Interview with WR Dontae Clark

23 Sep

Dontae Clark, a junior wide-receiver and middle-line backer had 73 yards receiving against Detroit Northwestern.

Mumford vs Western 9/14/12

18 Sep


Farod Anderson takes a pass and walks into the end-zone.


Jalen Ewing goes into end-zone on a quaterback sneak for the Cowboys


Western’s Dontae Clark picks off the Mumford quarterback and goes into the end-zone.


Western intercepts a Mumford pass.


Romello Ross tries to break away from the Mumford Defense.

Interview with Romello Ross

16 Sep
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