Friday Night Hoops: Renaissance vs. Gross Ile

Friday Night's contest between the Detroit Renaissance Phoenix and the Gross Ile Red Devils looked on paper like a game that would prove to be closer than some of the blowouts each has turned in thus far in the playoffs. The Phoenix have stars in Joe Crawford and Malik Hairston, while the Red Devils countered with the sharp shooting 6'3" PG, Zach Everingham. Unfortunately for the Red Devils, the on paper scenario didn't come to fruition.

Grosse Ile Coach Kevin Rydzik indicated in Saturday's edition of the Detroit News that he decided to have his team come out in a zone versus Renaissance's high-powered attack. That strategy seemed very sound prior to the opening tip. We saw three weeks ago how Joe Crawford and Malik Hairston torched #2 ranked Detroit Denby when they came out in a straight man to man in the opening round of the PSL playoffs. That performance lent credibility to the zone strategy that the Red Devils would employ. Play zone and force the Phoenix stars to beat you from the outside, right? That was not the case on Friday night. Joe Crawford and company were ON FIRE from outside!


Joe from deep!

Joe-Joe decided very early that he was going to shoot the ball with no hesitation. With AAU coach Durand "Speedy" Walker, and AAU teammate (and Westalnd John Glenn star) Jerret Smith amongst the observers, Mr. Crawford put on a show. He was sinking the jumpers from all over the floor (we had him unofficially for five three-pointers). When he wasn't shooting, he was attacking the boards like a mini Ben Wallace! Even though Everingham was slowed by an elbow/wrist injury to his shooting arm, he still helped keep the Red Devils in the game. They went into the lockerroom down 41-26.


Joe from long range again!

The second half saw Gross Ile try to claw back, cutting the lead to 12. However, the second half also saw more openings in the lane for Joe Crawford. He was able to drive to the hole with greater ease and regularity. The game was essentially over when Joe flew into the lane and skied to the hole to throw down a monstrous two-hand slam off of a rebound. That was the proverbial nail in the coffin and was part of a run that led to the Phoenix blowing the game open with a 20-point lead. Coach Mark White sat his stars down with a little under three minutes left to go in the game and the Phoenix cruised to a 72-40 victory. Joe-Joe finished with 35 points and an unbelievable 16 boards, while Malik finished with 16 points and 7 rebounds. Everingham paced the Red Devils with 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists.


Joe takes it to the hole

Renaissance now advances to the Quarterfinals to take on regular season nemesis, Detroit Crockett. The game will tip at 7:30 on Tuesday at the University of Detroit Mercy's Calihan Hall. Crockett beat Renaissance both times they played earlier this year by a total of 3 points (56-54 at Crockett and 51-50 at Renaissance). Crockett's senior point-guard, Deshaun Lynch, had big games in both meetings (20 points in the first game and 25 points in the second) and it will be important for the Phoenix to slow him down. On paper, it looks to be an excellent game!


Malik with the pull up jumper


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