Danielle Haskell does something every game that Franklinville girls basketball coach Allan Dunlap just marvels at.
When the sophomore sensation scored 17 of the Panthers’ first 21 points of the Class D Far West Regional at Rush-Henrietta Saturday, Dunlap thought she was well on her way to putting up 50.
Haskell “cooled off” in the second half, finishing with a game-high 25 points, but it’s not like it mattered. Section V’s Elba (21-4) was no match for the last undefeated girls basketball team left in Western New York.
While Dani started hot, it was senior Allyson Haskell, Dani’s older sister, and sophomore Abby McCoy who combined to score 21 of Franklinville’s 28 second-half points in a dominating 60-40 win to send the Panthers (24-0) to their first state final four since 1982.
“It’s an indescribable and unbelievable feeling for us,” Dunlap said. “It’s beyond us right now. It’s almost surreal for us. Just super excited about the next step and preparing to make reservations for Troy and preparing for our next team down there.”
Dani almost single-handedly pushed Franklinville to leads of 18-8 after one quarter and 32-17 at halftime and did so without her shot falling from the outside. She had 22 points at the break and also finished with five assists, three steals and a block.
END 1Q: @fvilleball 18, Elba 8.
— Corey Desiderio (@cpdesi1) March 10, 2018
“She does so many things besides shoot the ball,” Dunlap said. “People always talk about her range and her ability to shoot it, but it’s so far beyond that. It’s her handle, it’s her knowledge of the game and her ability to play defense and all those things.
“To this point, I haven’t seen – it’s not always easy to say this because you don’t want to offend people and things like that, but until I see someone better than her, to me she’s the best player in the state.”
Dani's first-half performance opened the floor for Allyson and McCoy, who both finished with three three-pointers and 13 points.
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“I just think, ‘get the ball to Dani,’ and try to create shots for her,” Allyson said. “Most of the time she draws two or three defenders. That way, if she’s driving the lane and our girls sag off and we’re wide open in the corner or the wing to hopefully make the basket.”
The three-pronged attack of the Haskells and McCoy will surely be the focus of Section X’s Edwards-Knox, Franklinville’s opponent in the state semifinals. The two teams play Saturday at 2:15 p.m. at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy.
“We’re pretty good so I’m hoping that we can actually, like – if we already made it there, why stop now?” Dani said.
“I think if we keep playing our game, keep flying,” Allyson added, “I think that we can hopefully get a shot at the whole thing.”
Dunlap sensed a different air of quiet confidence around the team after they unseated Panama last Saturday for the program’s first sectional title since 1987. It certainly carried over to regionals, and he’s sure it will make its way to the next stop.
“Playing against Panama three years in a row in front of their whole town – Panama brings their whole town and their band – this crowd, this number of people didn’t phase them,” Dunlap said. “We’re almost veterans when it comes to crowds and big games.”
“It’s obviously been really fun,” Dani said. “Last year we thought we could’ve done this too but we obviously fell short, and so this year getting to experience it is awesome.”
Franklinville advances to the @NYSPHSAA Final Four with a 65-45 win over Elba!! @bufnewspreptalk @WNYAthletics @sportsunionwny @SectionVI @SectVGBB @bakebm46 @TML1000 @fvilleball pic.twitter.com/bnj6MOVOzw
— Section6GirlsBBall (@Section6GirlsBB) March 10, 2018