Media Information Director
DPS Office of Athletics
Renaissance High’s Blake Calhoun and Southeastern High’s Edward Brown aren’t the biggest stars on their respective teams, but they’re the Detroit Public School League’s Proud Strong Learners of the Week for the key roles they’ve played in pursuit of Class A state championships.
“I’m the heart and the hustle of the team,” said Calhoun, a 5-8 senior guard. “When everybody’s down, I’m the one that’s still up and giving it all I’ve got, and that gives everybody a little boost.”
Renaissance (21-3) plays unbeaten Grand Haven (26-0) today (March 18) at 1 p.m. in the state semifinals at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center, but the Lady Phoenix’s tournament road might have ended much earlier without Calhoun’s heart, hustle and heroics.
“Against (Farmington Hills) Mercy (in the district tournament), Blake got steals and finishes on the last four shots to really ice the game,” Renaissance Coach Diane Jones.
“Then two games later against (Southfield) Lathrup, we went into overtime and she had all six points. She just went to work. With 6.6 seconds left, she drove the length of the floor, on a rebound off Arrice Bryant, and went right up to (a defender) and shot a floating layup in her face. We’ve been waiting all year for her to kick it up a notch and that’s what she’s done.”
Jones said Calhoun’s blossoming began in the PSL championship game when she helped backcourt mate Elizabeth Badgett handle the intense defensive pressure of Pershing’s guards. But it’s the buzzer beater against Lathrup that Phoenix fans will remember.
“It felt good,” Calhoun said. “I don’t know how to explain it. I was in a zone. Usually when I think, that’s when I get hesitant. I didn’t even think about it. I just knew it was going in.”
Calhoun plans to make some visits before deciding on where she’ll play in college and begin her studies toward becoming a physical therapist. She says the fact the Lady Phoenix lost in last year’s state title game to East Lansing fuels their fire to make good on this opportunity.
“It was very disappointing last season because I really wanted to win it for our seniors, who deserved it,” Calhoun said. “But I feel like it’s time now. I’m a senior now and this is my last chance. It’s a bunch of our seniors’ last chance, so we have to do what we can to win.”
Brown, Southeastern’s 6-0 senior guard, has a similar mindset with the Jungaleers (21-3) only three victories from a state championship. They play Romulus (23-1) Monday at 5:30 p.m. in the quarterfinals at the University of Detroit Mercy.
“We’re taking it a game at a time, one quarter at a time,” Brown said. “If we do that, we should come out victorious.”
Brown, who averages 12 points a game, has been instrumental in other ways that don’t necessarily show up in the box score.
In a rematch of the PSL championship game, Southeastern defeated Cody 43-40 Wednesday to win the Class A regional at Cass Tech High School. Brown scored just four points, but was a big part of the defensive effort that held down Cody’s high-flying offense. “Our defense got us here and our defense is going to take us where we want to go,” he said.
Brown envisions a career in law enforcement but also hopes that playing in college will lead to a basketball future, possibly overseas.
Since transferring from Finney after his sophomore year, Brown has become a player Southeastern can count on to do the right things in the clutch.
“He defends like crazy,” Jungaleers Coach George Ward said. “He applies a lot of pressure to the ball(handler) and he’s one of our best shooters. He’s really our energy guy. I call him “The Mouth of the South” because all day long in practice you hear him the whole time.
“He has really picked it up since he came over last year and he’s a joy to coach. He’s become a great student-athlete. He had some work to do, but he comes to study table and he’s bought into what we do on a daily basis. He has helped us win some basketball games, but he’s also become a better man. At the end of the day, that’s what’s most important.”