Westtown 65, Academy New Church 39
Sparked by a home-court advantage, timely defensive switch, and spectacular performance from its big man, Westtown captured its second Friends Schools League boys' basketball championship in three seasons.
Taking full command of things early in the second half, the host Moose buried frigid-shooting Academy of the New Church, 65-39, Tuesday evening before a packed house in West Chester.
Switching from a zone to man-to-man scheme, Westtown outscored the Lions, 35-13, in the middle two quarters. It was comfortably in front, 44-26, heading into the final eight minutes.
In arguably his best showing of the year, Georgios Papagiannis, a 7-foot-1 junior center from Greece, barely missed notching a triple-double. He finished with 16 points, 16 rebounds (six on offense), and nine blocked shots.
"George played a great game," Westtown sophomore point guard Jair Bolden said. "They were going right at him, and he was having none of it."
The FSL title game is normally played at Haverford College. The recent weather, which resulted in an extended power outage at ANC, forced a Friday postponement and move, per league bylaws when a neutral site is unavailable, to the home of the regular-season champ.
"The crowd helped a lot," Moose senior wing Jared Nickens said. "It was a big energy booster. The support was great."
Due to the loss of power, ANC's practice time has been limited over the last week. It showed, as the visitors shot 13 for 58 (22.4 percent) from the field. They were 5 for 24 from beyond the arc.
"We weren't too excited about playing this game here," ANC coach Kevin Givens said. "We had hoped to wait and play on a neutral site. To me, it's about the kids and not anything else."
Nickens, who is bound for Maryland, delivered 18 points, six boards, two assists, and two steals.
"Jared has grown from being a talented shooter to a complete player who helps you win championships," Westtown coach Seth Berger said. "You can see he's ready to play Division I basketball."
Bolden, a Brooklyn native, registered 12 points, five caroms, four assists, and two steals. "We really took them out of the game with our defense," he said.
A 10-0 burst after intermission upped Westtown's lead to 34-19. Papagiannis closed the third frame with an alley-oop dunk. Early in the fourth, his putback made it 50-31.
ANC, which was trying for its first league crown since 2009, was paced by guards Vince Jackson (14 points) and Darryl Bryant (12).
Academy New Church 13 6 7 13-39
Westtown 9 15 20 21-65
ANC: Vince Jackson 14, Tory Whiting 8, Carnel Harley 3, Payton Johnson 2, Darryl Bryant 12.
W: Jair Bolden 15, Edvinas Rupkus 8, Georgios Papagiannis 16, Habib N'Garmin 1, Jared Nickens 18, Jordan Phelps 5, Jeremy Evans 2.
- Rick O'Brien