While close games turned into routs in the blink of an eye during the opening three contests of the first Centercourt Classic, one thing did hold to form.
The stars delivered big-time performances for their respective teams – which was one of the reasons for the creation of the four-game showcase event.
Two of the early winners, East and Franklinville, showed why they could very well be the favorites to reach the Section VI Class D final next month, while Newfane looks like it could be poised to make another run to Championship Week at Buffalo State in Class B-1.
In the much-anticipated penultimate game of the tournament, East used defense and a third-quarter offensive burst in rallying from an early deficit to cruise to a 74-43 victory over defending Manhattan Cup Class B champion St. Mary's.
Willard Anderson, a second team All-Western New York pick last year, led all scorers with 36 points as the Panthers (12-4) won for the seventh time in eight games.
In other tournament games, Franklinville routed two-time defending Niagara-Orleans League champion Medina, 81-53, in a rare in-season matchup between a CCAA member and school from northern Niagara County. In another CCAA vs. N-O clash, Newfane defeated Ellicottville, 62-51.
The four-game Centercourt Classic was organized by News pollster Chad Andrews from the View From Centercourt website. The purpose was to provide a showcase event late in the season with top teams from different parts of Western New York facing each other leading up to the postseason.
The event closed with Section VI Class A title contender Williamsville South facing defending Class B champion Health Sciences.
News No. 3 small-school East trailed 15-9 after one quarter against the eighth-ranked Lancers but stormed back to head into the locker room with a 24-23 lead at halftime. Anderson scored 11 points to fuel the rally with Justin Allen's three-point play with 2 seconds left in the second quarter giving the Panthers the lead for good.
"In the first half our defense wasn't in good sync," East coach Starling Bryant said. "But they picked it up and the defense led to a little energy offensively and they were able to make some plays."
East put it away with a 20-3 run to open the third quarter as Jahahd Maryon drained three three-pointers during the run. Allen had six points during the blitz as well. Maryon finished with 16 points, and Allen had 14.
Christian Szablewski had 12 points to lead the Lancers (11-8).
Franklinville 81, Medina 53: Two of the many returnees from the Panthers' state semifinalist team from last year shined on the court at Williamsville South. Sam Erickson scored a game-high 27 points, while Issac Kopp added 20. Franklinville (13-3) received scoring from nine players.
Franklinville coach Jeff Haskell said it was special being asked to participate in the event and conveyed that message to his players.
"We wanted to take advantage of the opportunity," Haskell said.
The Panthers did just that, especially during the final 24 minutes as they defended well, moved the ball well and shot the rock well against the Mustangs (7-8).
The teams played to an 18-18 draw in the first quarter. Trailing 22-20, Franklinville seized the lead for good with Kopp draining a trey to spark a 12-0 run in which he scored all of the points. The Panthers led 40-25 at halftime.
Erickson, one of several returning All-WNY talents from last year taking part in the Centercourt Classic, sizzled during the second half, pouring in 19 points for Franklinville.
Jalin Cooper, the Toledo football commit, had 22 points to lead Medina and is the answer to a trivia question as he threw down the first dunk of this tournament.
Newfane 62, Ellicottville 51: The Panthers' defense set the tone in the first quarter as it fueled the team's offense and slowed down Ellicottville star Elliot Bowen.
Newfane (12-4) limited the Eagles to just six first-quarter points in a game it never trailed. The Panthers scored nine straight points over the final five-plus minutes of the quarter to turn an 8-6 lead into double-digit advantage.
Kyle DeVoogel, who surpassed 1,000 career points on Thursday in a win over International Prep/Grover and has averaged 34.5 points his last two games, scored the first five points of the run – the first three at the line after being fouled on an attempt from beyond the arc. He finished with 24 points, while Max Weber scored six of his 12 points during the final quarter.
"Kyle has the unique ability to put the ball in the basket anytime he's around the rim," Newfane coach Eric Klumpp said. "Max Weber does a great job engaging two defenders and allowing him to work from open space."
Bowen finished with 18 points to lead Ellicottville (11-2).
"I was extremely excited we were invited (to this tournament) and excited we played well," Klumpp said. "I thought the format itself and the timing was brilliant."