Public League playoffs: Frankford drops heartbreaker to Bartram

— Khayri Wash­ing­ton’s three-point­er with 13 seconds re­main­ing gave Bartram the 52-51 win.

One of the most un­for­tu­nate parts of a truly thrill­ing play­off game is that one of the teams ul­ti­mately has to lose.

The Frank­ford High School boys bas­ket­ball team found that out the hard way.

The Pi­on­eers, who had ad­vanced to the Pub­lic League post­season’s Round of 16 after last Thursday’s 64-51 win over North­east, fell in a 52-51 home heart­break­er to John Bartram on Tues­day af­ter­noon. In a wire-to-wire con­test in which neither team had a lead lar­ger than five points, it was Bartram seni­or guard Khayri Wash­ing­ton’s three-point­er from near the top of the key with 13 seconds re­main­ing that broke Frank­ford’s backs.

Frank­ford head coach Dave Huzzard frantic­ally at­temp­ted to call time out after Wash­ing­ton’s shot, but the noise from the packed crowd neg­ated the play­ers’ and ref­er­ees’ abil­ity to hear Huzzard’s plea. Frank­ford pushed up­court, but tries by Tyree Tuck­er and An­dre Coach be­fore the buzzer were no good.

“It was a close game all the way through,” Huzzard said by phone on Wed­nes­day. “What really killed us was we were 7-for-16 from the foul line. That’s something you can’t af­ford to do in a game like that.”

Still though, Huzzard found some sil­ver lin­ing in the loss, and right­fully so. Last year, the Pub­lic League re-aligned its bas­ket­ball teams based on over­all pro­gram strength; Frank­ford ended up in the power­ful, top A Di­vi­sion, and the grow­ing pains were sub­stan­tial. The team won just eight total games.

“Last year was the first time they went with strength di­vi­sions, and we only one three games in di­vi­sion play,” Huzzard said. “This year we went 6-5, and I think win­ning six games in a di­vi­sion like that speaks volumes.”

The Pi­on­eers en­joyed a nice turn­around in 2012-13, boast­ing a win­ning re­cord in di­vi­sion play and win­ning two more over­all games than the year be­fore. They also elim­in­ated a North­east team that had won nine in a row, and came oh so close to knock­ing off Bartram.

However, things didn’t al­ways ap­pear to be head­ing in the right dir­ec­tion for Frank­ford. The team en­dured a five-game los­ing streak over Christ­mas va­ca­tion, and Huzzard used words like “aw­ful,” “night­mare” and “pathet­ic” to de­scribe the Pi­on­eers’ play dur­ing that time. At the time, they ap­peared to be a sink­ing ship, but much to Huzzard’s de­light his team re­spon­ded, post­ing a 7-6 re­cord the rest of the way.

“Man, it really was aw­ful,” he said, re­fer­ring to the team’s struggles early on. “We had no one to handle the ball, nobody to bring it up the court. But when you play against com­pet­i­tion as good as we did, you’re only go­ing to get bet­ter. That did us a world of good.”

Huzzard mainly poin­ted to the pro­gress­ive emer­gence of his sopho­more point guards, Ster­ling Walk­er and Qua­dire Trues­dale for the turn­around. Their de­vel­op­ment made them more com­fort­able and con­fid­ent on the court, which spread to the play­ers they dis­trib­uted the ball to. Guards Tuck­er and Joe Rick­etts be­came more con­fid­ent with their jump shots, and seni­or for­wards Don­ald Robin­son and Den­zel Turbeville be­came im­pact play­ers in Frank­ford’s front­court.

“Last year, we got worse as the year went on,” Huzzard said. “This year, if you could have seen us at Christ­mas … it was pathet­ic. We had hit such a low that it was a down­er just try­ing to get them mo­tiv­ated. So to be that bad and to go as far as we did over the month of Janu­ary and some of Feb­ru­ary … that makes the sea­son re­ward­ing.”

And though prac­tice for the 2013-14 cam­paign is still about nine months away, Huzzard already can’t wait for next sea­son. He will lose Tuck­er, Robin­son and Turbeville, three of his five top scorers; however, lead­ing scorer Rick­etts will be back for his seni­or sea­son, while Walk­er and Trues­dale will only be ju­ni­ors. Slash­er Aaron Mc­Far­lan will re­turn, and des­pite los­ing his start­ing front­court, Huzzard is ex­cited about 6-foot-6 ju­ni­or Robert Sim­mons, who came on to play key minutes to­ward the end of the sea­son.

In a year that the Frank­ford foot­ball and base­ball teams won Pub­lic League cham­pi­on­ships, it’s not a bad time to be a Pi­on­eer bas­ket­ball sup­port­er, too.

“I prom­ise you, the kids that will be back got bet­ter … every single one of them,” Huzzard said. “That’s the nice part. I’ve got to ad­mit, I’m already look­ing for­ward to coach­ing those six or sev­en re­turn­ers next year.”

Sports ed­it­or Ed Mor­rone can be reached at

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