When the PSL playoffs started, most of the pundits didn't list the Renaissance Phoenix as the favorite. If they knew then what they knew now, they'd be hard pressed not to put that tag on Mark White's squad. For the second game in a row, Crawford, Hairston and company essentially manhandled the competition. Their defense was swarming and both Hairston and Crawford had their way offensively.
Joe was again running the point. However, Murray Wright attempted to press the Phoenix full court. In order to combat this, Coach White's troops used precision passing to defeat the zone. For that reason we weren't able to see Joe's dribbling skills on display quite as much. Still, on the offensive end he was the man. This is truly a kid who can get in the lane and score with the best of them. "Joe Joe's" nickname could just as easily be "And 1" because of his uncanny ability to finish and get to the line.
Joe With the crossover
Joe in the lane with the shot
Another trip to the foul line
Malik is no slouch at drawing fouls himself, as he constantly takes the ball into a lot of traffic. He did so much more versus Denby on Tuesday. However, against Murray Wright he did so just enough to get them on their heals. That allowed him to put his jumper on display once again. He didn't take as many threes as he did on Tuesday. Nonetheless, the jumper was still "money!"
Malik in traffic
Malik to the free throw line
The final score was 62-54, but the final deficit was a bit deceiving. The Phoenix stifled Murray Wright for much of the game. But, sloppiness in the last few minutes led to 3 straight turnovers and some clutch offense (including a huge 3 pointer) to cut the one time big lead (14 points) to single digits. Coach White called a timeout to calm his troops and stress ball security. When they came back out, the precision had returned and Renaissance put the game away from the line.
The second game featured the defending PSL champs, Redford, versus upstart Detroit Crockett. The Huskies came out and tried the full court press, but Crockett point guard Deshaun Lynch had a field day with it. He was single handedly breaking the press and setting up easy scores in transition. They got up 13-4 when Redford coach Derrick McDowell called a timeout.
That TO seemed to cause the Huskies to become a bit more patient. Redford hit a couple of threes, including one by Harris that really seemed to get them started offensively. Furthermore, the defense also improved. The lane presence, led by junior Jamal Locke, stifled Crockett's inside scoring. That really seemed to frustrate them. The defense, along with Dion's increased output from the field and from the line, put Redford in the lead by halftime.
Big Jamal Locke on the left. Dion goes to the line on the right
Almost from the start of the second half, Dion began to really assert himself. He drove the lane with more intensity. He rebounded with more intensity. He defended with more intensity. On a night when the Huskie's had a plethora of impressive shot blocks, Dion may have had the most impressive swat of the night when he came off of his man to provide help-side defense and reject the ball out of bounds.
Dion to the hole
Dion to the hole again!
Not only did he increase his own productivity, but he also did so for his teammates. He took over some of the distribution responsibilities for a while. He was the dispenser of some pretty impressive assists when operating in that capacity. The all around game that everyone speaks so highly of was on full display. Harris ended the day with 22 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks en route to a 74-51 win by Redford.
Dion crosses over between the legs
Dion with the sweet jump pass after drawing the defense
The Redford Huskies and the Renaissance Phoenix will face off for the PSL crown Tuesday at 7pm at Cobo Arena. This will give Michigan fans the opportunity to see a few big name Wolverine targets square off against each other. It should be a lot of fun! (By the way, Renaissance Coach Mark White gave us his thoughts on Dion Harris a few weeks ago. For those who missed it, check them out here: Mark White on Dion).
In the next few days we'll have full reports on both Joe Crawford and Malik Hairston which will include even more great pictures. The rest of the over 40 pictures not included in those reports will appear in photo galleries later in the week. Stay tuned!
Detroit PSL Semifinals
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