Golden Rams starting point guard Brandon Long understands the hype that surrounds a West Chester and Cheyney University basketball game because he’s a local talent who formerly starred at West Chester East High School. It’s also likely he heard stories about the rivalry growing up as a youngster.Senior center/captain, Sam Grannum was geared up to meet the “rival school” because he would get the chance to face off against former Cheltenham High School teammate Bruce Hall.
West Chester Head Basketball Coach Dick DeLaney couldn’t wait for this game because he knew his club needed a win to stay in the PSAC East Playoff hunt.
All three individuals proved to be primetime performers as host West Chester defeated Cheyney 78-65 in front of a raucous, filled to capacity crowd at Hollinger Field House. The win puts the Golden Rams’ record at 11-7; 2-2 PSAC East on the year, while the visiting Wolves fall to 12-5; 3-1 PSAC East on the season.
“We had to make Cheyney shoot the ball so we played zone. I didn’t think we would match up very well with them playing man to man. So the last two days, we practiced playing zone and made them miss some shots,” said DeLaney.
“They never got on a roll shooting the basketball, and Sam got every rebound out there and that’s what we need with senior leadership because our other big man, Kofi Danquah, was in foul trouble during the first half,” DeLaney continued.
“Brandon had the best game here in his career as far as running the team, keeping his composure, making shots, and communicating what we needed offensively and defensively,” said DeLaney, who earlier in the year notched his 300th career win as West Chester’s head basketball guru.
Just a sophomore, Long keyed the Golden Ram offense scoring eight points in the first half and finishing with 15 points. He also didn’t commit a single turnover in the first half of play.
“It’s a big confidence boost having a game like this today. I just have to keep playing consistent everyday and will be fine. As long as I keep getting the ball to our big men we’ll be tough to stop both inside and outside,” said Long.
The most dominating “big man” on both ends of the floor for either team was the 6’6″ Grannum who finished with 16 points, 15 rebounds and five block shots in the victory.
In addition, the Golden Rams’ front court of Grannum, Danquah, Azim Jones, Nathan Wingerd, and Chad Becker all did a nice job defensively of making 6’8” Cheyney star Anthony Frazier only finish with a Wolves game-high of 15 points. Frazier was a non-factor during the most crucial moments of the game.
“Coach DeLaney had a very good plan that we executed perfectly. Frazier is a very good player but we couldn’t give him good looks at the basket. Even though we played zone, we played Frazier man to man and I think it confused him,” said Grannum.
There were many other factors for the Golden Rams in this victory besides the shooting touch of Long, the muscle of Grannum, and great game plan devised by Coach DeLaney. Reserve Antoine Lovelace, also a football standout, came off the bench to score eight points.
West Chester sharp shooters’ Matt Kurtz and Steve Fat-tori combined for 21 points, starter Danquah had 12 points, a deep bench aided by Justin Westmoreland, and Shawn Werdt helped spur pressure defensively.
“The last thing I told the team was that we had to keep the score in the 60s to 70s range because Cheyney was coming in here scoring 87 points a game. If they score 90 points in the game, then we lose because we don’t have that type of firepower. We have to grind it out, run offense, shoot the ball well offensviely, get to the ball defensively, and make them foul us. We have to play inside-out and pound it in with Sam and Kofi,” said DeLaney.
The significance of this great basketball rivalry was likely summed up best by 14 year-old, Joe Ross of West Chester when he said, “It’s classic, the West Chester-Cheyney rivalry is absolutely classic. I made sure all my homework was done well before tip-off because I wouldn’t miss this game for anything in the world.