After opening with two lopsided losses at the Olean Tipoff Tournament, defending Section VI Class C champion Tapestry Charter approached the Pastor-Cooper Showcase as an opportunity to change the trajectory of its early season.
“We weren’t going to let it continue more and more into the year,” senior guard Dorian Plummer said. “We knew we had to turn it around.”
The Thunderhawks rose to the occasion on Wednesday night at Daemen College, soaring past last year’s Class D state titleist, East, 79-60.
“We focused on playing as a team, playing as a family and getting back to where we were last season,” said sophomore guard Tariq Eubanks, who led Tapestry with 27 points, five assists and four steals. “If we play like this the rest of the year, we can win every game.”
With four seniors starting alongside Eubanks, Tapestry exploited its experience advantage against East, which returns just one starter from last year’s championship team, junior guard Danny Carter, and does not start any seniors.
Eubanks and Plummer, a third-team Class C all-state selection last year, controlled the game at midcourt, harassing East’s guards on defense and pushing up the floor to defeat the Panthers’ press. Plummer finished with 22 points.
“I like the way those two played,” Tapestry coach Mike Ester said. “They kept the tempo where we like it, running fast, and were great on the defensive end.”
Offensively, the Thunderhawks shared the ball better than they did in losing to Olean and Southwestern by a combined 29 points last week.
“What I love about those two guys is that they’ve bought into the team concept,” Ester said. “Everybody thinks they are always battling against each other, but it’s not that, as we saw today.”
Eubanks, the MVP of the Class C championship tournament as a freshman and a Division I prospect, scored 14 of his points in the second quarter, during which Tapestry started with a 15-0 run that continued from the end of the opening period and closed with a 9-0 spurt that made it 36-25 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Eubanks scored three layups in a span of about 15 seconds during a 10-0 run that pushed the lead up to 51-31.
“We just couldn’t keep Eubanks from getting to the basket and that was a big part of the ballgame,” East coach Starling Bryant said. “I give Tapestry a lot of credit. Their guys had a little more experience than we did, and a little more talent.”
Anthony James added 13 points for the Thunderhawks and Ramel Robinson had seven points and seven rebounds.
East was led by David Hughes (13 points), a 6-foot-6 junior who joined the team this year, and sophomore Anthony Oberlander (nine points, 23 rebounds, eight steals).
“The Oberlander kid, he’s a hustler,” Bryant said. “He had a heck of an effort, and if there was one bright spot, I’d say that was it.”
East (1-1) moved up to Class C-1, setting up a potential rematch with Tapestry in the sectional tournament. Ester expects the Panthers to improve as the season progresses under Bryant, the city’s all-time winningest coach.
“They’ll be ready by the end, once the playoffs start,” Ester said. “You can never take his team for granted.”
Tapestry has a quick turnaround before facing Silver Creek in the Maple Grove Invitational on Friday night. East plays next against Nichols on Saturday in the Cataract Classic at Niagara Falls.
Wednesday’s nightcap in the Pastor-Cooper Showcase was more competitive, as Elijah Shahied scored five of his 15 points in overtime to lead Hutch-Tech in a 66-62 win over Global Concepts.
Anthony Whitfield added 13 points (four in the extra session) and Arik Mott had 12 for for the Engineers (2-1), who led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter but had to score four points in the final minute of regulation to force overtime.
Shawnery Jones had 15 points to lead Global Concepts (0-3), while David Stroud and Andre Goldsmith each tallied 14.
In the opening game of the triple-header, Grace O’Brien had 20 points and eight rebounds and Lois Garlow added 12 points with eight assists to lead Mount St. Mary in a 47-32 victory over Olmsted. Gabrielle McDuffie scored 17 to lead Olmsted (3-1).
Mount St. Mary (3-1) will travel to New York City this weekend to face St. John’s Prep.
The Pastor-Cooper Showcase concludes with three games Friday night. Sweet Home and McKinley will meet in a girls contest at 5, followed by boys games between Saint Francis and McKinley, and West Seneca East against International Prep.