Top of Blog 1

KLAA TITLE GAME: Chiefs played great, Dearborn better to claim crown

 KLAA TITLE GAME: Chiefs played great, Dearborn better to claim crown

Dearborn’s four seniors rejoice after receiving the KLAA championship plaque.

At the extraordinary level Canton’s boys basketball team was playing during the first three quarters of Friday’s KLAA championship game, the Chiefs would have defeated most very good teams.

Unfortunately, the Chiefs were playing a great team.

Playing a relentless style at both ends of the court — the highly-skilled and cohesive Pioneers rarely take their foot off the gas pedal — 22-0 Dearborn earned the 2023-24 KLAA championship with a 65-52 victory over Canton, which led 33-32 following an ultra-entertaining first half.

The Chiefs’ regular season ended with a stellar 18-4 mark that included a 12-0 record in the competitive KLAA West Division.

To check out video highlights of Friday’s game, click here.

Productive brothers

The Pioneers were led, as usual, by the Mashhour brothers — senior Nassim and junior Hamoody (whose father, Abe, is the head coach) — who netted 24 and 25 points, respectively (Dearborn’s roster also has a freshman Mashhour brother, Adam).

Canton senior Devon Pettus is sandwiched between a pair of Pioneers while rising for a rebound
Canton senior Devon Pettus is sandwiched between a pair of Pioneers while rising for a rebound

At least a quarter of the brothers’ points came on acrobatic drives to the rack that were relatively well-defended.

“We’ve played a lot of tough teams this season, like Canton, but we’ve been able to keep our poise when things are tight,” said Nassim Mashhour. “We’ve been in situations like we were tonight — in close games late — but our senior leadership  and our junior (Hamoody Mashhour) help us get through it.

“This feels amazing because a lot of us have grown up together, played AAU together, which has allowed us to build a great culture. This is a great team because the players truly love one another and play for each other.

Culmination of great season

“All the games we’ve won this season brought us to tonight, so this is a reward for all of our hard work.”

Bradley Ezuika drives to the basket against Nassim Mashhour
Bradley Ezuika drives to the basket against Nassim Mashhour

Fueled by the outside exploits of senior Alex Persinger (who buried all six of this three-point shots for a team-high 18 points) and junior Teddy Winstel, who scored eight points (of his 12) in the first quarter, Canton played dribble-for-dribble with the Pioneers, who entered the game ranked fourth in the state in Division 1 (Canton was ranked eighth).

Canton’s largest first-half lead was 29-23, but Dearborn’s firepower wouldn’t allow the Chiefs to pull away.

The Pioneers led 32-31 in the waning seconds of the second quarter before Winstel’s buzzer-beating layup gave the Chiefs a slim halftime lead.

The skill level on display in the first half was off-the-charts fun to watch as both teams torched the net with long-range, nylon-finding rainbows and slick post moves, like Canton forward Devon Pettus’s up-and-under bucket between three Pioneers.

Pettus played well

Pettus, who is headed to Grand Valley State University to play football,  finished with 13 points in his final KLAA contest.

Dearborn players and coaches pose with their championship plaque
Dearborn players and coaches pose with their championship plaque

Dearborn started to take charge mid-way through the third quarter. The igniter was Ali Homayed, whose emphatic slam dunk at the 4:24 mark gave Dearborn its biggest lead to that point, 41-35.

Canton trailed just 57-52 with 3:54 left on a driving layup by Pettus, but that was as close as the Chiefs could get.

Dearborn has traditionally been a solid program, but it has ascended to stratospheric heights this winter.

“Our nucleus core of players have been playing together and moving up the past three seasons, so we’ve been getting better and better,” said Abe Mashhour. “Fortunately, we’ve had a few underclassmen step up and play important roles for us.

“It’s a great group of guys. They listen well and do what we ask them to do. I’m very proud of them.”

Chemistry counts

His players’ close-knit relationships make it easier to coach them, Mashhour added.

Devon Pettus delivers a pass to Bradley Ezuika despite tight defense by Dearborn
Devon Pettus delivers a pass to Bradley Ezuika despite tight defense by Dearborn

“There are a lot of teams that label themselves as a family, but these guys truly are a family,” he said. “Honestly, no one cares who scores the points. Obviously, the guys on the bench want to play, but whether or not they get into the game, they’re OK with it.”

Knowing Canton’s record in close games, Mashhour admitted he didn’t want Friday’s game to come down to the wire.

“We definitely wanted to try to build a decent-sized lead heading into the final minutes because Canton is a quality team that is not fazed by pressure-packed finishes,” Mashhour said.

Both teams are scheduled to compete in MHSAA Division 1 district tournaments beginning next week.

Ed Wright can be reached at 734-664-4657 or edwright@socialhousenews.com.

Buying or selling a home this year? Working with our real estate company, Social House Group, helps us bring you more good news. If you’re considering a move, schedule an appointment with Erik Wright today by calling or texting him at (734) 620-4736. We’d love to help you with your next move!

Digiqole Ad
after post 1

Ed Wright

Related post