Derailing Franklin and high-scoring Luke Kennard was the immediate goal, but there’s much more to go after for the Thurgood Marshall boys basketball team.
“This means a whole lot, but we expected it, though,” said Thurgood senior RaChaun Martin following a convincing 69-52 defeat of Franklin in a high-end Division II sectional final doubleheader at UD Arena on Saturday night.
“For our seniors, it’s our last ride. We just got to play our ball and have no regrets.”
Dunbar joined in the fun, knocking out Fenwick 86-50 in the nightcap to complete a City League sweep.
The games drew at least 10,000 spectators, who crammed well up into the upper levels of the arena.
It was the third straight season that Franklin has fallen in the sectional final.
“Our sectional is one of the toughest in all divisions in Ohio,” Kennard said. “There are tons of teams that can go to state and win it. We’ve been here the past three years. Hopefully, next year we can get over this hump. The offseason starts right now for us.”
Kennard scored 31 points and hit four treys. But that was 10 points below his average. Evan Crowe added 17 points for Franklin.
Only three Wildcats scored, which was exactly what Thurgood had hoped to accomplish.
“I told our guys that you don’t stop great players,” Thurgood coach Darnell Hoskins said. “You can only hope to contain them. … When those other guys get 10 and 15 and 12, that’s when they hurt you.”
Thurgood (19-5) unleashed too much unrelenting defensive pressure for that to happen.
Martin led the Cougars with 20 points. Davion Ashe added 16 and Darnell Hoskins Jr. 12.
Thurgood will play the McNicholas/Wyoming winner in a D-II district final Friday at UD.
Franklin (20-4) lost to Dunbar by three in a sectional final last season. In 2012, Thurgood handed Franklin its only loss in yet another sectional final.
Franklin coach Brian Bales had his starting five practice against eight players on the floor to replicate Thurgood’s high-pressure defense. He should have used eight more.
“It’s hard to assimilate what they do to you defensively,” Bales admitted. “I don’t think we beat ourselves, they beat us.”
Dunbar 86, Fenwick 50: Dunbar spotted Fenwick a 6-0 lead before impressively taking over. William Green led the top-seeded Wolverines with 20 points, followed by Doriane Dawson (15), Terrance Landers (13) and A.J. Harris (12).
The Wolverines (22-3) will take an eight-game win streak into next week’s district final against the Springfield Shawnee/Carroll winner.
A former starter, Green has provided a spark coming off the bench for the Wolverines.
“We had to change up something to give us some energy,” coach Pete Pullen said. “The first time we did it, William scored eight straight points. That turned a close game into a blowout. So we’ve been doing that.”
Seniors Kevin Christie and Frank Catrine led Fenwick with 19 and 17 points, respectively. The Falcons close at 17-6.