Friday, March 8, 2013

Late rally thwarts Rustin girls

Staff photo by Brad Spahr/Rustin's Adashia Franklyn muscles her way to the basket during Friday's PIAA Class AAAA first-round game.


EAST NORRITON -- For three quarters the West Chester Rustin High School girls basketball team looked like a Lamborghini firing on all cylinders, poised to explode right on past Dover in their first-round PIAA Class AAAA playoff game.
Then suddenly the engine started overheating, and eventually the wheels simply fell off.
The whole thing was both painful and heartbreaking to watch, as the Ches-Mont League champion Golden Knights let a 12-point fourth quarter lead slip away on Friday night and saw their outstanding season come to a close as they were stunned by Dover, 54-53, at Norristown High School.
How bizarre was this game? Well, the Eagles (26-3 overall) found a way to prevail despite going a stretch of 11 minutes without a single field goal, and the fourth-place squad out of District 3 also saw four of its starters foul out of the contest. On top of that, they had no answers whatsoever for Rustin (22-8) standout junior center Adashia Franklyn, who finished with 20 points and 18 rebounds.
Nonetheless, Dover rallied back from the dead by scoring as many points in the final period as the prior three quarters combined and shockingly took their first lead of the night, 52-51, with 7.5 seconds remaining. Junior guard Alayah Hall, who was phenomenal in netting a game-high 22 points, made the big shot for the Eagles with the game on the line. She was also fouled on the play, and converted the ensuing free throw for the traditional three-point play.
Rustin, in disbelief, took a timeout to calm their nerves. However, they then proceeded to turn the ball over while attempting to get it up court trailing by a point. That forced them to immediately foul Dover’s Ashentay Kearse, who calmly buried both shots from the line to up her team’s lead to 54-51 with 5.1 seconds to go.
Rustin, now out of time outs, rushed the ball into the hands of star guard Noelle Powell. She raced up court, but then instead of pulling up for a potential game tying 3-pointer, Powell drove to the basket as the final seconds dwindled off the clock and scored on a layup as time expired. With that final horn, Rustin’s remarkable season was over.
“It was our game, and frankly I don’t have any idea how we lost this one,” said a heartbroken first-year Rustin coach Leah Kim. “It’s coaching. This one is on my shoulders -- not the kids. I assume full responsibility. I should have saved time outs and put the team in a better situation there at the end.
“This really hurts to go out like this. I thought we were definitely the better team here tonight -- no doubt about it.”
It was hard to fault Kim, Powell, or anyone for that matter. Things just kind of snowballed on Rustin in a hurry, and there wasn’t a whole heck of a lot they could do about it in what was a night to forget in an otherwise memorable season. The Golden Knights were outstanding this winter in setting a school record for wins. They also claimed their first Ches-Mont League title, won a district playoff game for the first time, eventually making it all the way to the district semifinals, before going on to earn their first state tournament berth.
They looked like they were going to roll to another first, their first state playoff victory, after storming to a commanding 31-17 halftime lead. Franklyn was terrific in the opening half, scoring 11 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Powell was on top of her game as well, scoring eight points and navigating Dover’s tough full-court pressure. Junior Casey Warley added 10 of her 13 points in the opening half.
“We were playing so well,” said Kim.
The Golden Knights didn’t surrender a field goal in the second quarter as their defense was spectacular. Dover’s first point of the quarter came with 2:34 left in the half on a free throw by Hall, who then later added their second and final point of the period on another free throw with 16.7 seconds left.
“It certainly didn’t look like this was going to be our night,” said Dover coach Troy Lokhaiser. “In the locker room at halftime, though, the girls still believed. They refused to believe that the game was over. We knew we couldn’t buy a basket in the first half, and if we could just get some shots to fall we might be able to make a run.”
Dover finally snapped its field goal drought, that had dated back to the opening quarter, when Megan Lokhaiser netted a basket with 5:42 to go in the third. The Eagles awoke from that point, and pulled to within 39-27 after three periods of play.
Then, it fell apart for Rustin.
Dover really got hot in the fourth quarter, erupting for 27 points in the frame, including four crucial 3-pointers and a perfect 11-of-11 from the line. In a game that featured over 40 total fouls, things started to get real testy late.
Rustin led 50-46 with 40 seconds to play after Franklyn made 1-of-2 free throws. But Dover immediately trimmed it to one, 50-49, on a huge 3-pointer by Brianna Crossan with 30.4 seconds left. After taking a timeout, Rustin nearly threw the ball away but Katie O’Hare saved it from going out of bounds by tossing it to Warley, who was fouled. Warley made 1-of-2 free throws with 17.6 seconds remaining to up the Golden Knights’ lead to 51-49.
That set the stage for Hall’s heroics for Dover. Her clutch old-fashioned 3-point play gave the Eagles a lead they would never relinquish and moved them on to the second round on Tuesday night for a date with Nazareth High School.
“I just wanted to take the ball strong to the basket,” said Hall. “What an amazing feeling. We knew we could come back and win this game.”
The majority of Rustin’s players, meanwhile, left the locker room with tears running down their faces. It was about as tough a loss as you can be dealt. The Golden Knights return all their starters next year, and boy oh boy, will this loss provide plenty of motivation during the offseason.
“I told the girls to keep their heads up,” said Kim. “They had a better year than a lot of people expected them to have.”

Dover 54, W.C. Rustin 53
DOVER: Funk 2 2-3 7, Fowler 2 0-2 4, Lokhaiser 4 0-0 10, Hall 3 15-18 22, Herman 2 0-0 4, Crossan 1 2-2 5, Kearse 0 2-2 2. Totals: 14 21-27 54.
W.C. RUSTIN: Warley 4 5-7 13, Steinmetz 0 0-0 0, Powell 5 4-4 14, O’Hare 2 0-0 4, Franklyn 7 6-15 20, Walls 1 0-2 2, Hoy 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 15-28 53.
Dover     15 2 10 27 -- 54
W.C. Rustin     20 11 8 14 -- 53
3-point goals: Funk, Lokhaiser 2, Hall, Crossan.

Griffins overcome turnovers to reach 2nd round


PLYMOUTH MEETING -- When postseason tournament time comes it is not about style, just results. And although Friday night in the opening round of the PIAA Class A playoffs at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, Church Farm did not play well at all, turning the ball over a season-high 28 times, the end result is that the Griffins lived to play another day.
Church Farm did force New Hope Academy into 30 turnovers and kept a big first-period lead safe to triumph, 58-44. The Griffins will play the District 11 champion Mahanoy Area or District 4’s Muncy Tuesday night at a time and place to be determined.
Aondofa Anyam led the Griffins (21-5) with 19 points and added four assists to go along with three steals and was easily the best player on the floor.
“Our focus dropped a lot after we got that big early lead,” Anyam said. “We did not focus and take care of the basketball like we should. Coach (Marc) Turner talked about that to us in the locker room after the game. “
The first period saw a big Church Farm rush started by its tenacious defense as Joey Shelton stole a New Hope Academy pass, drove the floor, scored, and hit the free throw to complete the three-point play for a 13-6 lead.
Anyam then stripped a Mighty Ants guard and scored in transition for a 15-6 edge. John Rodriguez, who scored eight points on the night, created another steal and took a nice feed from Anyam and scored for a 17-6 advantage. After another New Hope turnover -- one of 10 first-period miscues for the Mighty Ants -- Jan Bohm hit a driving Anyam in full stride for a 19-6 lead to end the first.
The carnage continued in the second, although Church Farm did turn the ball over 14 times themselves in the first half. Baskets by Anyam and Mlynue Reeeves at the end of the second period sent the Griffins into the locker room with a big 34-20 edge.
“When your offense is not working as well as it should, you can always play good defense and create scoring chances for your team and that is what we did tonight.” Anyam said.
New Hope Academy (18-6), tried to get back into the game. Led by Ishmael Brown’s 13 points, the Mighty Ants battled hard the entire second half. The Ants did not shoot well enough however to come all the way back as New Hope shot just 16 for 50 (32 percent) on the night to go along with those 30 miscues.
 They shranked Church Farm’s lead to 54-44 with 1:56 to play in the game after a 3-pointer from Dominque Salisbury. But, two Bohm free throws and a blocked shot by Larry Cermak, one of five on the night for the 6-foot-9 senior, kept the Griffins safe and put them into Tuesday’s second round.
 “We have young guards and they played very young tonight,” Church Farm coach Marc Turner said. “We have not turned the ball over like that all season and I think we played down to the level of competition. We will clean things up Saturday in practice and they will not happen again.
 “We know what we can do and what type of team we are, so I am not worried. These things happen at times and they will not happen to us again. This time of the year it is all about execution and efficiency and we were neither tonight. It will be addressed as it was in the locker room and we will grow from it.”

Church Farm 58, New Hope Academy 44
NEW HOPE ACADEMY: Serrano 3 1-2 7, Salisbury 5 2-2 13, Brown 5 3-4 13, Morgan 2 2-2 7, Harris 1 0-0 2, Matthews 0 2-4 2, Murray 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 10-10 44.
 CHURCH FARM: Anyam 8 3-4 19, Rodriguez 3 2-3 8, Mohammed 2 8-11 12, Bohm 1 2-4 4, Shelton 2 1-2 5, Cermak 0 3-5 3, Reeves 2 1-3 5, Ofray 1 0-0 2, Towles 0 0-0 0, McDuffy 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 20-34 58.
New Hope Academy     8 12 11 13-44
Church Farm               19 15 13 11-58
3-point goals: Morgan, Salisbury.