After Renaissance High made it all the way to the Class A girls’ basketball state championship game last March, the Lady Phoenix’s reputation preceded them coming into this season.
With four returning starters from a 24-3 team that won the Detroit Public School League, district and regional championships, Coach Diane Jones’ team was accorded the state’s No. 1 ranking in the Detroit News preseason poll.
Boasting three teams ranked among the top 10, including King High’s Lady Crusaders at No. 4 and Pershing High’s Doughgirls at No. 6, the PSL’s 22-team field begins league play today at 4 p.m. with high expectations for a suspenseful, action-filled season.
In East Division play, Pershing, a Class A state semifinalist last year, visits Denby, Crockett visits Finney, Southeastern visits Kettering, Davis visits King and DIA visits Osborn. In the West Division, Renaissance is at Western, Mumford is at City, CMA is at Cody, Cass Tech is at Ford and Northwestern is at Westside. In a crossover nonleague game, Southwestern visits Central.
There has already been a surprise to this season. In a season-opening nonleague game between two of the PSL’s top teams, Pershing ran past Renaissance 59-45 last Wednesday. Coach Shawn Hill’s Doughgirls finished 23-3 last season and look primed to make another run for it all after losing in the state semifinals against East Lansing, which went on to defeat Renaissance for the Class A championship. Coach William Winfield’s King High Lady Crusaders, coming off a 19-6 season, are also considered a strong title contender.
The PSL’s basketball strength extends to the boys’ teams. Coach George Ward’s Southeastern High Jungaleers, led by senior forward Brandan Kearney, are ranked No. 1 in the News’ preseason poll, while Cass Tech is ranked No. 8 and Pershing No. 11. The boys’ league season begins Tuesday, Dec. 14, with all games scheduled for 4 p.m. The boys’ games will be followed by the girls’ games at 5:30 p.m. against the same opponent at the same site.