In a game headlined by the return of guards Ernie Chatman and Shaun Miller, an unsung hero stepped up for Boston English.
Senior forward Frantz Francois controlled the backboard all night against the much bigger O’Bryant team and his huge 10-point third quarter was crucial in English’s 63-57 win.
“I challenged him,” said assistant coach Joe Chatman, who was calling the plays throughout the game. “One thing I’ve told my guys all season is ‘you can’t be afraid to be great.’ Frantz Francois is probably the most underrated power forward.”
Chatman went on to describe how O’Bryant’s focus on Ernie and Miller, and the doubling of senior center Braxton Gulleymabry, left Francois with many wide open opportunities. The senior captain took advantage, finishing the game with 16 points.
“He works extremely hard. The man lost 20 pounds since September and that’s a tribute to that kid and how hard he works,” Chatman said.
However, Francois was quick to credit his teammates for finding him at the right spots and times throughout the contest.
“You got Ernie Chatman and [sophomore point guard] Stanley Davis. They know how to facilitate the whole game; slow it down, slow the tempo, speed it up; they get in the lanes and know how to pass,” Francois said.
While Francois’s defense was crucial in the win, Ernie Chatman once again dazzled the crowd at O’Bryant with a great offensive performance after missing English’s last two games.
The freshman finished with 18 points, 11 coming in the first half to give English a 2-point lead at halftime.
“I feel like I just fit in. It didn’t feel like I missed two games because I’m used to playing with them, so I just came back ready to play,” Ernie said.
The freshman’s ballhandling skills were key in the fourth quarter. With 5:16 left, O’Bryant went on a 12-6 run helped by junior guard Javon Martin’s defensive intensity.
“Javon Martin subbed in and literally created five turnovers in the last five minutes. Rather than sticking to the same people making the same mistakes, perhaps I should’ve put him in earlier in the first half,” O'Bryant coach Drew Brock said.
Despite the great effort by the reserve, once English put the game in the hands of its freshman point guard, O’Bryant’s press stood no chance.
“That kid Chatman, he’s unbelievable with the ball, and basically when you reach, he teaches,” Brock said.
With English qualifying for states, all Ernie could talk about was the bigger picture.
“We just want to change the culture at English. We say it at every practice; change the culture,” Ernie said. “We just want to do something new, for the first time in a long time.”
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