UNIONTOWN — Francis Scott Key sees its share of zone defense, and the Eagles have spent the majority of the season trying to solve it.
They focus on shooting 3-pointers, having taken 356 of them going into Friday night’s regional playoff game against Boonsboro. Facing a zone usually means working the ball around the perimeter enough times to find the open man, but when a soft spot presents itself the second option is to get the ball to the baseline for a short-range jumper.
FSK knows the plan; it’s just navigating through a zone that makes things tricky. And Boonsboro tossed out a 3-2 zone all night long.
“The ‘32’ zone is bedeviling to us,” Key coach Ryan Kimble said. “We love to shoot 3s, we love to attack, but we don’t seem to get it in order when we play a ‘32’ zone. We’ve got a lot of work to do, because we’ll see it next week too."
The Eagles did enough to break down the Warriors’ zone and post a 66-53 victory at Beard Gymnasium, winning their Class 1A West Section 2 quarterfinal.
Josh Brown and Amir Cole, Francis Scott Key’s senior backcourt mates, combined for 42 points. Cole led the Eagles (10-13) with 22 points and Brown scored 20 while Noah Vipond, a junior forward, netted 17.
The win wasn’t as easy as FSK would have preferred — Boonsboro stuck to its game plan and, despite going winless during the regular season, trailed by two points early in the fourth quarter.
Peyton Wescott drained a 3-pointer on his team’s open possession of the frame, and the Warriors trimmed the deficit to 43-41. Francis Scott Key didn’t score for more than 2 minutes, but Brown delivered a 3 from the right corner to give his squad a five-point lead.
The Warriors (0-23) then went cold and committed a few costly turnovers, which the home team turned into points.
Brown canned another 3 from the right wing with 4:08 to play, making it 49-41, and after a missed 3-pointer from Boonsboro, Cole went the the other way for a driving layup. The Eagles were in sync down the stretch and pulled away for the win.
Cole said FSK tends to get sluggish when facing a zone, so it’s his job to be sure everyone on the court is active and communicating. In fact, all of the Eagles are vocal when it’s needed to figure out the proper alignment.
“We get passive and … we don’t move as much,” Cole said. “Without everybody moving, when we get still, we’ve all got each other’s backs. … We’re there for each other. As a team, we need to keep consistently moving.”
Wescott and Trenton Von Philp each had 12 points for Boonsboro, and Jake Humbel netted a team-high 13.
Cole added eight rebounds and six assists, with Vipond totaling five rebounds and three assists. Anthony Murray, a senior forward, finished with six boards and five steals.
The Eagles advance to the sectional semifinal Monday against Brunswick, which beat FSK twice during the regular season.