Varsity Basketball

Top-ranked Heights boys fend off North comeback

The Heights boys basketball team didn't need a basket as badly as North needed to foul when the Redskins trailed by three points in the final minutes.

The top-ranked Falcons spread the floor and waited for the foul. It came, and so did the basket.

Dreamius Smith's three-point play with 22 seconds to go allowed Heights, the two-time defending Class 6A champions, to escape with a 62-56 win in Friday night's season opener.

The Falcons survived 29 points from North sophomore guard Conner Frankamp, who nearly led the Redskins back from a 14-point second-half deficit.

"Knowing our guys the way I do, we're going to get a lot better," Heights coach Joe Auer said. "But we were fortunate tonight. We saw a great individual performance and we had to make some plays at the end. But we're never going to be greedy when we're going to get a win."

A basket by Frankamp cut Heights' lead to 58-55 with 1:10 to play. Heights passed the ball around near halfcourt until a timeout was called with 40 seconds to go. The Falcons used more clock until Smith caught a pass on the baseline. He drove to the basket and was fouled as he scored.

North coach Gary Squires had trouble piecing together the final minute but said, "Maybe we should have" when asked why the Redskins didn't foul. Heights made two of its first 11 free throws and finished 4 of 15 from the line.

"I think the way things were going, where we were missing some putbacks and they were getting some run-outs, it was just kind of a strange evening," Auer said. "There were several times late in the first half and early in the first half where it looked like (the lead) was going to get pushed out to 20, but it never happened."

Frankamp allowed the Redskins to stay close early and helped North rally after they trailed 43-29 early in the second half. Frankamp's three-pointer near the end of the third closed out his 12-point quarter and cut Heights' lead to 49-44.

Auer said he didn't devise a strong defensive gameplan, but Frankamp displayed abilities that were scarce last season when he started most possessions on the wing. This season, Frankamp is the point guard and North's offense is different, relying more on screens and Frankamp's ability to create his own shot and shots for teammates.

"He'll get other guys involved when the first option isn't there," Squires said. "The kids have a tendency to stand and watch him, and he pretty much will get in the flow of the offense. That's our first option, but we're trying to get everybody involved."

Heights' philosophy is the same, which is why the Falcons win games when center Perry Ellis is guarded heavily or when Evan Wessel has difficulty finding a rhythm. The Falcons got 21 combined points from starters Ellis, Wessel and E.J. Dobbins, but Dreamius Smith and Terrence Moore combined for 29 and reserve Aaron Degraffenread scored eight.

Any player can take an important shot for Heights. Friday just happened to be Smith's turn.

"We just play through the offense," Wessel said. "We're really good at passing the ball and using the whole team. We don't really decide who gets it, it just happens through the offense and what the defense gives us."

Heights (1-0, 1-0) 13 23 13 13 — 62

North (0-1, 0-1) 12 12 20 12 — 56

HEIGHTS: Dobbins 1 0-1 3, Wessel 4 0-0 8, Smith 6 3-9 16, Moore 6 0-1 13, Ellis 5 1-3 11, Owens 0 0-0 0, Degraffenread 4 0-1 8, Countee 1 0-0 3. Totals 27 (4) 4-15

NORTH: Urban 1 1-3 3, Kinder 4 1-2 9, Williams 2 1-2 5, Frankamp 10 4-6 29, Bridges 5 0-0 10, Johnson 0 0-0 0, Johnson 0 0-0 0, Shockley 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 (5) 7-13 56.

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