Share this article

print logo

East knocks off Franklinville, claims Class D boys basketball title

Willard Anderson was a freshman role player the last time East won a Section VI boys basketball title.

The Panthers secured the Class B-2 three-peat in 2015 at Buffalo State and haven’t been back to the Championship Week venue since.

Due to drops in classification to C the last two years and D this season, East’s championship road has had to go through Jamestown Community College. The unfamiliar surroundings were not kind to the Panthers in 2017 in a C-2 title-game loss to Randolph.

By coach Starling Bryant’s own admission, East wasn’t as prepared as it should have been. That wasn’t the case going up against the defending Class D champs.

Top-seeded East (17-6) came out hot from the field and aggressive defensively in knocking off No. 3 Franklinville (19-4) at JCC Saturday afternoon, 67-59.

“I think we overlooked Randolph last year and we learned a valuable lesson,” Bryant said. “We don’t take anything for granted. We saw them play a couple times, so we had a pretty good game plan set up.”

Senior Waunya Shaw scored his team-high 20 points during the first three quarters and Anderson had 14 of his 18 points during the final eight minutes to clinch East’s long-awaited return to the school on Elmwood Avenue.

“It means everything,” Anderson said. “I’ve been wanting to play back at Buff State since freshman year, and now I get to go back. It’s great. Buff State’s a great atmosphere. It’s going to be good.”

Anderson’s four first-half points were a product of what the defense was giving him. Franklinville often ran two guys at the point guard as he crossed half court. It worked on limiting Anderson’s numbers, but it left his teammates with open looks.

“They kept sending two guys to me, and that never works out good for the other team,” Anderson said. “If you send two guys towards me, that means one person on the floor is always open so I kept finding that guy and he kept hitting.

“I wanted to win, so whoever was hot I was going to get the ball to. Points don’t really matter to me as long as we win.”

East went on a 14-3 run to go up, 19-9, with 2:28 left in the first quarter after Franklinville took a 6-5 lead, its only one of the game. Franklinville’s Isaac Kopp (26 points) hit his first two of eight three-pointers and Sam Erickson (15 points) followed up a blocked shot for a quick 8-0 spurt to bring the deficit to 19-17. East responded with eight quick points in the last 1:07 to extend the lead to 27-17.

Five points from Kopp and four from Erickson pulled Franklinville within 31-27 midway through the second, but Shaw hit two threes to push the lead back to 10. An emphatic Justin Allen block on Erickson closed the half with East holding a 41-32 lead.

Franklinville tied the game in the third quarter twice, 44-44 with three minutes to go and 46-46 a minute later. East sophomore Danny Carter (13 points) came up big on the next possessions with a bucket and then a three to send East into the final frame with a 51-48 advantage.

That’s when Anderson went to work. He scored East’s first eight points, assisted on an Allen basket and then scored the Panthers’ last six.

“It feels good knowing that I could accomplish something,” Anderson said. “We fell short my sophomore year and junior year, but this year we pulled it together. Us group of seniors, we all play together, have trust in one another and we came out on top.”

The Class D Far West Regional is Saturday at noon against a Section V foe to be determined Tuesday. Bryant’s looking forward to the scouting trip to Rochester.

“I enjoy the preparation because we’ve done this in (Class) A, B, C and D,” Bryant said. “Between East and Traditional, we’ve won at almost every class. It’s kind of neat.”

Story topics: / /

There are no comments - be the first to comment