Farmington's #1 Justin Banks goes up for a shot while defended by Berkley's #3 Noah Witus during their game at Berkley High School, Friday January 31, 2014. Farmington went on to win 79-76. (Vaughn Gurganian-The Oakland Press)
Basketball - Boys
BOYS BASKETBALL: Farmington wins battle for first place in OAA Blue at Berkley WITH TOUT VIDEOS
Berkley's #50 Dennis Bevsa and Farmington's #1 Justin Banks battle for a rebound during their game at Berkley High School, Friday January 31, 2014. Farmington went on to win 79-76. (Vaughn Gurganian-The Oakland Press)
Berkley's #50 Dennis Bevsa tries avoiding Farmington's #13 Corey Sheltrown as he drives to the basket during their game at Berkley High School, Friday January 31, 2014. Farmington went on to win 79-76. (Vaughn Gurganian-The Oakland Press)
Berkley's #15 Connor McKelvey shoots over Farmington's #13 Corey Sheltrown during their game at Berkley High School, Friday January 31, 2014. Farmington went on to win 79-76. (Vaughn Gurganian-The Oakland Press)
BERKLEY – Farmington’s boys basketball squad keeps surprising.
In a high-octane showdown for first-place bragging rights in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division Friday night, Farmington went on the road to Berkley and came away with a fast and furious 79-76 win.
Thanks to the victory, the upstart Falcons, thought to be a non-factor back in the preseason, push their overall record to a shiny 11-1 and sit atop the Blue Division standings at the midpoint of the year with a 6-1 mark in league action.
Friday’s affair was played at a rapid tempo throughout, with both clubs looking to take advantage of the transition game at every opportunity.
Falcons’ junior center Justin Banks blocked Berkley's potentially-tying 3 right before the buzzer to secure the win for Farmington.
Banks is in the midst of a breakout campaign on the blocks and on Friday posted an incredibly rugged and clutch double-double of 27 points and 14 rebounds.
Farmington was in control of the things in the second and third quarters, leading 38-27 at halftime and 58-44 entering the fourth, but Berkley stormed back down the stretch, spurred on by Oakland County’s No. 1 scorer, Bears junior combo guard, Jonathon Radner, who pumped in 22 of his game-high 34 points in the closing 12 minutes.
The host Bears (5-4, 4-2) made it a one-possession contest on four different occasions in the final 90 seconds. Each time, however, the Falcons were up the task and quelled their opponent's rally with staggering counter-punches.
Most of the response-blows ended with Banks (a college football recruit as well) getting loose for a bucket around the rim off beautiful passes from Farmington’s deadly backcourt of senior point guard Avon White and junior shooting guard Chris Seaborn.
A transfer from Boston, White had another stellar outing, scoring 17 points, giving off six assists and collecting four steals, while converting a number of critical baskets late on tough moves to the tin.
One of Seaborn’s set-ups to Banks was of the behind-the-back variety and White’s final assist of the evening, on a feed to Banks on a fast break made it 76-71 with 25 seconds left.
An offensive rebound and put-back by Berkley’s Connor McKelvey made it a two-point game at 78-76 and after Farmington’s Corey Sheltrown split a pair at the line with six seconds remaining, the Bears last-second triple to try and send things into overtime was thwarted by Banks’ crucial swat.
“It’s about teamwork and everybody doing their job,” said Banks after the game. “Tonight, I stepped up and did my job and so did everybody else.”
Sheltrown and Chandler Reese both had 12 points and five rebounds for the Falcons to augment Banks and White in the stat sheet.
Farmington head coach Terrence Porter was pleased.
“This is huge, to get a gutty road win like this in the league with something like first place at stake is just really big,” he said.
White was quick to describe how intense the game was.
"We were both fighting for first place and that's what it was, a fight, just a war," he said.
On Berkley's end, Radner is averaging over 25 points per night and Friday was the fifth time this winter he’s eclipsed the 30-point plateau.
Showing his knowledge of the game, all the Bears' ace twine-tickler wanted to discuss in the aftermath of defeat was defense
"We can't just trade buckets, we've got to get stops," Radner said. "We didn't get enough tonight. We've got a lot of spunk, a lot of fight, on this team though and we'll bounce back. We're going to get things fixed and start winning these kind of ball games with that kind of defense as we move forward. That's got to be the approach."
McKelvey and Bears point guard Noah Witus chipped in with 14 points apiece in the loss.