|Staff photo by Vinny Tennis/Rustin's Adashia Franklyn rises for a layup during Tuesday's Ches-Mont girls basketball championship game at Unionv|
By BRAD SPAHR
EAST MARLBOROUGH - To be the best, you have to beat the best.
For quite some time, the Downingtown West High School girls basketball team had been atop the Ches-Mont throne, as the defending league champs had gone 26-1 in league tilts dating back to the 2010-11 season.
West Chester Rustin didn’t just beat them on Tuesday night in the championship game of the Ches-Mont Final Four Tournament, they put on an absolute clinic that showcased team basketball at its finest. The Golden Knights put four different players in double-digits and led from wire-to-wire on their way to a 61-48 victory in front of a packed crowd at Unionville High School to claim their first league title.
West Chester Rustin (19-5 overall), who doesn’t dress a single senior, won its 16th straight game by completely overwhelming a very good Downingtown West (17-6) squad. They forced 17 turnovers while mixing in numerous different defensive looks, and were tremendously unselfish offensively as they continually found the open player for easy inside baskets off cuts. They led 32-21 at halftime and 50-34 after three quarters.
Junior forward Adashia Franklyn netted a game-high 16 points for the Golden Knights and pulled down 11 rebounds as well.
"This means a ton to be the first Rustin team in school history to win the Ches-Mont championship," said Franklyn. "We have a lot of respect for Downingtown West, but we certainly weren’t fazed by them coming in.
"The nerves were there because this was such a big game. We didn’t wanna lose. We wanted this so bad. We played so well as a team, and our unselfishness was key."
West Chester Rustin had four different sophomores all step up in a big way: forward Casey Warley (12 points and eight rebounds), forward Anna Steinmetz (12 points, including eight in the first half), guard Katie O’Hare (12 points) and guard Noelle Powell (nine points).
Powell and Franklyn, two of the top players in the league, were each held to four points in the opening half.
"We thought we would be in good shape if we held those two in check," said Downingtown West coach Dave Johnson. "But they had a lot of role-type players step up in a big way.
"We simply got hit by a hot team tonight. All the credit in the world goes to them. We got beat by a better team plain and simple, and there is no shame in that."
The National Division champion Whippets got a team-high 15 points from senior forward Kayla Feairheller, 10 of which came in the first half. Sophomore guard Maddie Dew added 13 points, including three 3-pointers that helped keep her team in the game. Senior forward Lindsay Galczynski added nine points, and eight boards.
Rustin, the American Division champs were just too much on this night.
Warley, Steinmetz and O’Hare combined for 24 of the team’s 32 first-half points.
"Credit to Downingtown West they came out in a box-and-one on Noelle, and that’s something that she hadn’t seen all year," said first-year Rustin coach Leah Kim. "But we made every extra pass, and I don’t think one single girl was selfish out there for us.
"That’s the kind of team game we are looking for. That has been our goal all year to play that way."
Powell, who had scored a game-high 20 points in the Golden Knights’ 39-31 semifinal win over Downingtown East on Saturday, was just happy to see her team make school history.
"We played excellent," Powell said. "We came out hard and did what we wanted to do right from the start.
"This is an awesome feeling right now to be champs. We wanted this so bad."
West Chester Rustin, who starts four sophomores and a junior, are going to be a scary team in the future. On Tuesday night, though, they showed that their time is now.
"I’m so happy for the girls," said Kim. "I’m a perfectionist and I ask a ton of them every day at practice, and they work so hard and give me everything they have.
"They were so excited for this game all day. I couldn’t be happier for them. They played their hearts out and they deserve this."
W.C. Rustin 61, Downingtown West 48
W.C. RUSTIN: Warley 6 1-3 12, Steinmetz 6 0-0 12, Powell 2 5-6 9, O’Hare 6 0-0 12, Franklyn 6 4-6 16, Hoy 0 0-0 0. Totals: 26 10-15 61.
DOWNINGTOWN WEST: Dew 5 0-0 13, Camden 1 0-0 2, E. Kuhlman 3 0-1 7, Galczynski 3 3-6 9, Feairheller 5 3-3 15, Schanck 0 0-0 0, Supplee 1 0-0 2. Totals: 18 6-10 48.
W.C. Rustin 15 17 18 11 – 61
Downingtown West 11 10 13 14 – 48
3-point goals: Warley, Dew 3, E. Kuhlman, Feairheller 2.