Tom Markowski / The Detroit News
It isn’t so much that the defending Class A champions lost on Wednesday, it was how.
Isaiah Sykes (24 points, 18 rebounds) and Derrick Barden teamed for 44 points and 31 rebounds as Detroit Denby shocked No. 2-ranked Pershing (22-3), and many others in the Detroit Public School League including some of the Denby players, by defeating the defending champions, 81-64, in a regional final at Detroit Cass Tech.
“I was surprised we beat them,” Barden said. “They beat us twice during the season. We won with defense. It wasn’t me. It was the dogs.”
The dogs, by name, are Antwain Cleary, Sidney Bates, Eric Hudson and D’ante Perkins. Denby coach Chuck Albright used a triangle-and-two defense in an attempt to contain Pershing’s two top scorers, Keith Appling
and Juwan Howard. It worked. Howard was held to 11 points and Appling had 29, 18 in the fourth quarter when Pershing played out of desperation.
“We wanted to keep fresh legs on Keith and Howard
Denby coach Chuck Albright said. “We were right with Pershing the last game we played them. I sat down with (Detroit Mumford coach) Ben Kelso and we went over what I was doing wrong. We watched a lot of tape. All year we weren’t going to our strengths. Ben said we weren’t playing our best.”
Detroit Pershing came from behind Monday to defeat Detroit Southeastern, 52-44, in overtime. Pershing dug itself too big a hole to get out of this time.
Denby played its best at the right time and it will play Taylor Kennedy (21-3) in a quarterfinal at 5:30 p.m. next Tuesday at Calihan Hall.
Denby (15-9) led 26-25, then dominated most of the second half despite an injury to Sykes late in the first half. Sykes sprained his left ankle with 32 seconds left in the first half and didn’t return until there was 4:19 left in the third quarter. Denby trailed 25-23 when Sykes left and led 39-32 when he returned.
“At first I thought I was done,” Sykes said. “I landed on somebody and I heard it pop. There was a lot of pain. It slowed me down. I couldn’t get the takeoff I wanted.”
Sykes had nine points and 10 rebounds after his return.
“I was scared to put him in,” Albright said. “I told him he was done. But he came out for the second half, they taped him, and he said he could play.”
Barden and Cleary provided the spark for Denby in the third quarter. Barden scored 10 in the quarter and Cleary made three 3-pointers, one from 24 feet.
Denby increased its lead to 59-34 early in the fourth quarter.
and Pershing never made a serious run.
“We never got into a rhythm or a flow,” Pershing coach A.W. Canada said. “We didn’t have enough ball movement and, defensively, we didn’t have the intensity we usually do.”