DETROIT — Detroit Cass Tech boys basketball coach Steve Hall said he did not want to sound like a broke record. However, after watching his senior Tyson Acuff score 32 points in the Detroit Public School League championship game, Hall had no choice but to replay his praises for the star guard.
“Tyson being Tyson,” Hall said. “When you perform on this stage, it’s really gratifying. When those lights come on and the kids perform, it’s really gratifying feeling as a coach.”
Facing Detroit Douglass at Calihan Hall, Acuff caught fire in the second quarter when he sparked a 12-0 Cass Tech run in which he scored 10 points, giving the Technicians a 24-17 lead. It was a lead the Technicians would not surrender the rest of the way as Cass Tech went on to win comfortably, 66-41.
“We couldn’t let it get down to the wire,” Acuff said. “They’re known for hitting big shots and they like to score a lot. So, we tried to hold them to the lowest points possible.”
The victory marked Cass Tech’s second-straight PSL title and its third in four years.
“It feels the same way every time: Great,” Acuff said. “It’s a great feeling, a great feeling.”
Cass Tech burst out to a 10-0 lead to open the game, with Acuff collecting five of the points. However, the Technicians went on an 0-for-11 stretch from the field as Douglass tied the game 12-12 by the end of the first quarter and took a 17-12 lead early in the second. During that cold stretch for Cass Tech, Acuff was 0-for-6 from the floor.
Then, suddenly, it was the Acuff show.
Acuff scored 12 points in the second quarter, 10 points in the third quarter and 5 points in the fourth quarter, ending his night with a dunk before heading to the bench with about two minutes left to play. He also hit five 3-point shots on the night.
Although the Mr. PSL award was not announced at halftime despite tradition, Acuff did his best to make his case for it. Also a name that many are considering for the statewide Mr. Basketball award, Acuff has been thinking about those individual awards a lot as of late.
“It’s been on my mind, I’m not going to lie,” Acuff said. “But, I’ve been thinking about this (PSL title) more. Building chemistry on my team, winning championships and getting scholarships.”
The championship wrapped up a wild week for Cass Tech and the PSL. On Tuesday, it was announced Cass Tech was forfeiting its PSL semifinal game against Detroit Communication Media Arts for using an academically ineligible player. However, Cass Tech appealed and it was determined the player was eligible after all. The game between Cass Tech and CMA was rescheduled for Thursday night. Cass Tech won the game, 53-44, and had less than 24 hours to prepare for the championship.
“Heavy is the head that wears the crown, you know?” Hall said. “It just comes with the territory. The guys locked in, and when we get inside this rectangle, we say we’re all that we have and we’re all that we’ve got. I think, right now, we’ve got some good momentum going.”
Despite Tyson handling nearly half of Cass Tech’s scoring, he also had his fair share of assists on the night. He was also not the only Technician in double figures as Isaiah Sanders had 12 points and Ryan Bowens finished with 11 points, both of which collected a majority of those points in the paint.
Cass Tech’s zone defense was sharp most of the night, holding Douglass’ offense to its lowest output of the season. Although Douglass’ 4-star junior standout Pierre Brooks II had some big moments and finished with 24 points, only four other players scored for Douglass and none of them had more than six points.
“That’s what we pride ourselves in,” Hall said of the defensive effort. “We only give up about 43 or 44 points per game. The guys have bought into it. It’s not a passive, traditional zone. It’s a zone with man-to-man principles and it’s just demoralizing. The guys have bought in and it’s a system now. It’s a program that’s built on solid foundation.”