Media Information Director
DPS Office of Athletics
King High’s top-ranked and unbeaten girls’ basketball team couldn’t shake off the upset threat by Farmington Hills Mercy until junior Marte’ Grays’ layup put them ahead for good Thursday at Southfield High School.
The Lady Crusaders’ 44-39 double-overtime victory clinched the Class A regional championship as Grays finished with 11 points and played big at both ends of the court to earn recognition as the Detroit Public School League Proud Strong Learner of the Week.
“We played very hard and everybody wanted it. That’s why we came out with the win,’’ said Grays, a 6-2 junior center-forward. “It was very crucial. It was one of the hardest games I’ve ever played.”
Senior Antania Hayes led the Lady Crusaders with 16 points, while Grays made her greatest impact down the stretch with key rebounds, solid defense and the final go-ahead basket. The game was a nip-and-tuck struggle throughout as King never really found its stride.
“I don’t think it was us being nervous,’’ Grays said. “Stuff just wasn’t working. We needed more chemistry as far as coming out as a team and being on the same page. Some of us weren’t. But we still had enough to pull it off.”
Grays was back in the lineup after being forced to sit out the regional opener against Livonia Stevenson. She served a mandatory one-game suspension after an altercation with a Pershing player in the district finals.
“I felt like I let my team down by not being able to play,’’ she said. “ I felt like I could have been out there helping us win and it felt wrong not to be out there. (The altercation) wasn’t my fault, but I probably could have prevented most of what happened.”
Of her overall play this season, “I think it’s been good,’’ Grays said. “I’ve gotten better over the year. I’m improving as it goes. I’ve got one more summer of AAU basketball. That’s when I really get good.”
She says she’s primarily improved her driving to the basket and her defense.
“She’s going to be the big key for us next season,’’ Lady Crusaders’ coach William Winfield said. “We’re expecting her to be the leader for us that Antania has been.”
With a 3.3 grade point average, Grays is being recruited by several major college programs but says she likely won’t make her decision until her senior year. She hopes to pursue a career in forensic science with the FBI.
“I want to make all my visits and experience the whole recruiting process and see where I really want to go,’’ she said.
Grays said winning last year’s first of back-to-back PSL city championships and going undefeated this regular season have been the highlights of her high school career.
Although the Lady Crusaders fell short of their ultimate goal of winning a state championship, that same goal remains for next season.
“It’s very important,’’ Grays said. “I know Coach Winfield wants another state championship. And we want to give it to him.”
The Detroit Public School League Proud Strong Learner of the Week award is representative of the league’s top boys and girls athletes. The award is presented by the DPS Office of Athletics and sponsored for the third year in a row by Detroit-area McDonald’s owner-operators