JAMESTOWN – The baseline inbounds had hurt the Franklinville girls basketball team throughout Saturday’s Class D final.
So when Panama had a chance to inbound the ball under Franklinville’s basket down one with four seconds remaining, coach Allan Dunlap was understandably concerned.
"I was scared to death," he said. The play "killed us the whole game … but on that play we were clawing and fighting to get in position, and there was no way they were going to get an easy one on us. We might not have stopped them, but it wasn’t going to be easy."
The hustle paid off: The ball was deflected and landed in the hands of junior Danielle Haskell, who ran out the clock to seal a thrilling 54-53 victory and Franklinville’s second-straight Class D title.
The matchup at Jamestown Community College sends Franklinville to next Saturday’s Far West Regionals at Buffalo State against the winner of Tuesday’s Section V matchup between Elba and Fillmore.
Meanwhile, Chautauqua Lake and Maple Grove picked up victories in Class C-1 and C-2, respectively, and will face off Tuesday at JCC in the Class C crossover game for a chance at regionals.
However, Franklinville and Panama was the highlight of the day with a back-and-forth affair in which neither team had a lead larger than six.
A free throw by junior Kylie Schnars gave Panama a 49-47 lead with under five minutes remaining, but Haskell made a floater to tie the game and then a three-pointer on the next possession that proved to be the game-winner.
Haskell, who finished with a game-high 28 points, ultimately was the hero on the final play when the ball landed in her hands, although she credited the defense of teammates such as Arianna Wolfer and Abby McCoy for causing the deflection.
"My heart stopped," she said of the moment she caught the ball. "It was such a good feeling."
It was the opposite for Panama coach Jeff Angeletti, who thought his team had Franklinville "right where we wanted them" after calling a timeout with four seconds remaining.
"But we had the opportunities and that’s all you can ask for. A couple shots didn’t fall here and there," he said. Franklinville "did a good job playing defense. They were intense and they had made some tough
"I think the world of (Dunlap) and I told him at the end, ‘Now go win yourself a state title,’ " Angeletti added.
The respect was mutual on the other bench. The two coaches have faced each other in the last four Class D finals, with Panama winning in 2016 and 2017 and Franklinville now winning the last two.
"As happy as I am for us, I feel for those kids," Dunlap said. "I know those kids through AAU and stuff like that. They’re great people and great kids, and Jeff Angeletti is one of the best coaches in New York State."
Chautauqua Lake had an equally satisfying, albeit less dramatic, victory in Class C-1, defeating Silver Creek, 62-31.
After a scoreless opening two minutes, the Thunderbirds hit back-to-back three-pointers en route to a 12-0 start and 16-2 first-quarter lead. However, coach Bill Persons credited his defense for the hot start.
"The defense effort, I think that’s what really got Silver Creek on their heels right out of the gate," said Persons, who secured his second Class C-1 title in three years on the job.
Chautauqua Lake got balanced scoring with four players in double digits. Senior Katelyn Fardink scored 15 points, freshmen Lily Woodis and Alexis Jacobson had 14 and 11, respectively, while senior Abigail Henry added 10.
"They’re just really well rounded and starting to click at the right time of the year," Persons said.
Maple Grove began clicking in the second half, turning a one-point halftime advantage into a 59-45 victory over Frewsburg and the program’s first Class C-2 title since 1997.
"It means everything," Maple Grove coach Bill Price said of the victory.
"It was our goal since the beginning of the year: to win sectionals. I knew they could do it."
As happy as he was for his players, Price dedicated the win to his father, who died three years ago in a car accident.
"Every game I look into the stands and I can see the visual of him sitting there," he said. "I know if he was still alive he’d be smiling."
Price expressed excitement for his team’s matchup against Chautauqua Lake.
"It’s going to be fun," he said. "We have to come out and match their intensity."