The playoffs are coming up, and Washington boys basketball coach Ron Faust likes the way things look.
The Prexies have won four in a row and clinched an outright section championship in Tuesday’s 61-48 win over Brentwood, which also avenged Wash High’s only section loss.
The Spartans (6-3, 8-6) had a chance of denying the Prexies (10-1, 11-4) an outright title in Class 3A Section 4, and Wash High vanquished that threat. More importantly for Faust, the team is starting to click.
Throughout the winning streak, the veteran coach has seen a plethora of flaws, and while tonight wasn’t perfect– the team missed 11 foul shots – problems are becoming fewer.
“A couple of weeks ago, I gave five or six things that we (had) to work on,” Faust said. “If it’s just down to free-throw shooting now, then we just have one. After tomorrow, we’re going to have a week to work on it (before the postseason). We’ll hopefully take care of it.”
As to be expected, there were notable individual performances for the Prexies.
Brandon Patterson had 13 points and Davoun Fuse had five blocks. But the biggest star on both sides of the ball was Tayshawn Levy.
On Senior Night, the junior stood out on offense (24 points) and defense (six steals), with none of it coming as a surprise to his head coach.
“He did what I expected, but I even expect more,” Faust said. “He’s an excellent athlete. He needs to continue to do that for us at both ends of the floor. ... He needs to be our Swiss Army knife to do all the things that are necessary in a game. That just makes everyone else better.”
Although Levy is happy to be a section champion, it’s something that he’s done before– twice outright as well as a shared title last year. For the junior, the focus turns to the titles that he and his teammates haven’t won.
“It feels good, but the job is not done,” he said. “I’m not worried about a section championship. It’s good that we won a section championship, but I’m ready to win WPIAL championship and a state championship.”
Although the fact that the playoff seeding had already been decided certainly made this section title game less meaningful from a numbers standpoint, it was still a big night for the Prexies. The win capped a Senior Night, which celebrated Ian Bredniak and Quamar Patterson.
“It’s great to get (winning the section) out of the way,” Faust said. (It was) a mistake maybe on my part to have senior night tonight because senior night is (usually) an emotional affair. You saw we got off to a rough start.”
Indeed, they did.
At the end of the first half, Washington led by the slimmest of margins, 24-23, and needed a spark in the third quarter.
Levy gave them that spark.
With Wash High up 28-25 early in the third quarter, Levy stole the ball on two straight Brentwod possessions, and scored on both. A three-point game quickly became a seven-point game, and it was all Prexies from there.
“It was real big,” Levy said. “It got our bench hyped. “It got the fans hyped. It just sparked the environment up to a whole ‘nother level.”
The Prexies have one more game before the playoffs begin, and that’s tomorrow night at home against Brownsville. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30.
Brentwood’s season is over, at least for now. Coach Dan Thayer said that the team might schedule a bonus game between now and the playoffs. As it stands, however, the Spartans will go into the playoffs on a four-game losing streak.
Despite not being able to sweep the Prexies or share a section title with them, Thayer wasn’t overly upset with how Tuesday night played out.
“We’ve been going through a tough stretch. We haven’t been playing all that well,” he said. “But I thought we played a pretty good first half. Second half, we had a couple of little turnover stretches. I think if we play like this, then we can be OK.”
For Faust, this was a night that showed how far his squad has progressed in 2021.
“Had we played that way earlier in the year, we would have lost the game,” he said. “We showed some maturity.”
“We’ve come out ready to play in our last four or five games. We’ve been more aggressive. We still have some areas to shore up. You never want to say you’re satisfied with where you are. But we’re certainly in a good place right now.”