EAST LANSING - Demetrius Ward hit a free-throw line jumper as time expired to lift Pershing to a 79-77 overtime win over Romulus advancing to tomorrow's title game against Saginaw.
Pershing built an early 17-13 lead at the end of the first quarter, but
Romulus went on a 24-1 run, largely with Pershing's two heralded
stars, Keith Appling and Derrick Nix sitting on the bench.
Pershing appeared ill-equipped to slow the speedy, athletic Eagles who
got balanced first half scoring from Will Clyburn (11), Laron Rogers
(9) and Martell Anderson, but the Doughboys held Iowa State-bound
Dominique Buckley to just two first half points.
Dennis Perry with eleven and Nix with seven led Pershing. Nix added
six rebounds despite playing just nine minutes without a foul.
Appling, on the other hand, picked up three first half fouls trying to
guard the smaller, quicker Eagles forcing him to the bench.
But Appling turned things around in the second half showing why he is
one of the top sophomores in the nation. Despite being saddled with
four fouls, it was Romulus point guard Dominique Buckley who fouled out of
the game and that turn of events changed the Eagles' fortunes.
Buckley left at the four minute mark with the Eagles up by six but a
layup by Nix and two free throws by Dontae Molden tied the game at 71.
Both teams traded making one of two at the free throw line in their
last possession with Laron Rodgers' free throw sending the game to overtime
tied at 72.
Romulus really struggled getting into their set offense without Buckley
and turned the ball over 35 times including one by Will Clyburn with
just 1:56 remaining in the overtime.
It was Devin Pankey who tied the game for Romulus with a knifing drive
through the Pershing defense setting up Ward's game-winning heroics.
Nix had a monster 17-point, 16-rebound performance to go with Ward's 18
points and Appling's 17-point, five-steal performance.
Pershing (22-4) will face Saginaw (26-1) in tomorrow's finale.
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Doughboys outlast Eagles in overtime
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