It was Hall of Fame night at McDowell High, with former longtime head coach Lloyd Church being inducted, along with legendary star center Darren Moore. Just for good measure, another all-time great, Jenis Grindstaff, was in attendance.
All three joined Titans head coach Brian Franklin, who played for Church alongside Moore on the greatest McDowell team ever, in the pregame locker room. Another McDowell fixture, super-fan Rocky Truett, was also there, having been inducted into the hall as well.
When the Titans took the floor, their usual music was eschewed in favor of “Theme from 2001,” in another nod to days of yore.
McDowell fans with a sense of history couldn’t possibly have missed the symbolism: This had the makings of an unforgettable night.
The Titans made sure it was.
McDowell (6-0 Northwestern 3A/4A Conference, 14-2 overall) put on an offensive clinic in a remarkable 110-80 rout of the West Caldwell Warriors. It was the most points in a game for the Titans since the 1991-92 season – Moore and Franklin’s senior year.
“Our kids had every reason in the world to be ready to go tonight,” said Franklin. “But I thought their intensity, their attention to detail and how hard they played were outstanding from the very beginning.
“I thought defensively, we gave up too much penetration, and they hurt us on the boards some, especially early, but offensively, we were outstanding. We moved the ball around and shot it well from the perimeter. But we were still able to attack the middle. It was one of our most complete nights offensively.”
Was it ever.
McDowell shot a blistering 65 percent (41-of-63) from the field and went 14-of-25 (56 percent) from 3-point range. The Titans put six players in double figures, with five of them hitting that mark by the end of the third quarter.
After a 21-point first quarter, McDowell put up 32, 29 and 28 points in the next three periods.
The Titans hit the century mark on Andruw Randolph’s bucket off a Nick Grande assist with 3:20 left in the game.
Guard Antoine Lindsey (7-of-12 FGs) went 5-of-8 from long range and led all scorers with 21 points. Point guard Kevin Silver (7-of-14 FGs) notched 11 of his 19 points before halftime and pulled a career-high nine rebounds.
Post Travis Corpening (8-of-12 FGs) added 18 points, pulled eight boards and blocked a shot. Wing Skyler McKinney (6-of-9 FGs) had his typical night with 17 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block.
Dylan McRary (4-of-4 FGs) came off the bench for 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists. J.C. Olivo (4-of-5 FGs, 2 steals) also chipped in 10, making both his 3-point attempts. Olivo scored the Titans’ first seven points of the fourth quarter.
Cole England and Trenton Gragg also hit 3-pointers for the Titans, giving them seven players with at least one triple.
West Caldwell (1-5, 6-9) stayed close early, trailing 19-14 late in the opening quarter.
But thing went downhill fast for the Warriors.
McKinney scored off a McRary assist to make it 21-14 after one period.
Lindsey opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer in transition off an inside-out assist from Corpening for a 24-14 lead.
On McDowell’s next possession, Lindsey was fouled and uncharacteristically missed both free throws. But Adam Randolph tracked down the offensive rebound and found Lindsey open for a long 3-pointer that made it 27-14.
Adam Randolph then scored on a layup off another McRary pass to push the advantage to 29-14 with 6:15 left in the half.
The 10-0 run gave the Titans some separation, and the lead never dipped into single digits the rest of the way.
McDowell outscored West 32-22 in the second quarter and held a 53-36 advantage at the half. The lead stretched to 82-54 at the end of three.
West Caldwell put five players in double figures, including Kaleb Dula (15 points), Trevon Hall (14), Matthew Gurnsey (12), Anthony Isbell (12) and Kam Carver (10).
The Warriors hit 10 treys of their own, but shot just 39 percent (30-of-76) from the floor. They also came up on the short end of a 43-25 rebounding total.
McDowell hosts Freedom (5-1, 14-1) Tuesday in a key NWC battle. The jayvee girls game tips off a four-game slate at 4 p.m.
West Caldwell (80) Kam Carver 3-13 4-4 10, Trevon Hall 6-15 0-1 14, Elijah Brooks 2-4 1-2 5, Kaleb Dula 6-14 1-2 15, Taye Dula 0-2 2-4 2, Javon Elleby 1-5 0-2 2, Anthony Isbell 6-9 0-0 12, Holden Triplett 0-1 2-2 2, Samuel Perky 1-2 0-0 3, Koby Eller 1-5 0-0 3, Michael Marley 0-1 0-0 0, Matthew Gurnsey 4-5 0-0 12. Totals: 30-76 10-17 80.
McDowell (110) Skyler McKinney 6-9 3-4 17, Caden Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Travis Corpening 8-12 2-2 18, Antoine Lindsey 7-12 2-4 21, Kevin Silver 7-14 3-3 19, Dylan McRary 4-4 1-2 10, J.C. Olivo 4-5 0-0 10, Adam Randolph 1-2 0-0 2, Cole England 1-1 0-0 3, Jordan Kehler 0-0 3-5 3, Trenton Gragg 2-2 0-0 5, Andruw Randolph 1-1 0-0 2, Andrew Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Nick Grande 0-1 0-0 0, Ian Elliott 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 41-63 14-20 110.
West Caldwell 14 22 18 26 – 80
McDowell 21 32 29 28 – 110
Rebounds: WC (25) McDowell (43) Rebound leaders: WC (Carver, T. Dula 4) McDowell (McKinney 11, Silver 9, Corpening 8, McRary 7) 3-point goals: WC (10-32) McDowell (14-25) WC (Carver 0-7, Hall 2-8, Brooks 2-7, Elleby 0-1, Triplett 1-1, Eller 1-3, Gurnsey 4-5) McDowell (Silver 2-7, Lindsey 5-8, McKinney 2-4, McRary, England, Gragg 1-1, Olivo 2-2, Grande 0-1) McDowell assist leaders: (McKinney 5) McDowell steals leaders: (McKinney, Olivo 2) McDowell blocked shot leaders: (McKinney, Corpening, England 1) Turnovers: WC (12) McDowell (17)
Titans head coach Brian Franklin on the significance of Friday’s game:
“For me personally, what a special night it was. Having Darren Moore here, who I graduated with and played with coming back and being honored, and to have Coach Church, who was my coach and my mentor, and then my friend afterwards, to come back and then to have Jenis Grindstaff come back and be a part of all of it, too. We had all those guys in the locker room before the game. Coach Church talked to the team, and it was kind of a flashback to the old days. He had me going – I wished I could come back and play. He had the guys ready to break the door down to get out there. What a special night it was on so many levels. We talk to the kids all the time as a coaching staff about how important they are to us, but also how important this place and this program is. You’ve got four guys (Franklin, along with assistant coaches Joe Cash, Allen Tate and Turner Kincaid were all Titan standouts) who played here, who have been where they are, and who care so much about it that even as adults, we want to come back and still be involved in it. To have Darren and Jenis standing there, who were two of the best players ever to play for the Titans, and to have Coach Church, the best coach that’s ever been here, it was just a special night. I told the kids, I’ve had some good nights at this place, some of the best nights of my life. But if this isn’t at the top, it’s right up there.”