Swanson Dazzles As Westfield Prevails

Westfield’s Carson Swanson celebrates after a slam dunk in the third quarter of a Section VI Class C quarterfinal boys basketball game Saturday at Westfield Academy. P-J photo by Braden Carmen

WESTFIELD — Westfield Academy is eyeing a major capital project that features major athletic facilities upgrades.

Saturday afternoon, Carson Swanson’s theatrics almost added a new item to the list: a new gym roof.

The packed home crowd nearly blew the roof off the building with the finish to the third quarter their school’s all-time leading scorer put together.

Carson Swanson, arguably the best player to ever call Westfield’s gym home, showed why he might just be the best player currently in all of Western New York. He scored the final nine points of the third quarter with a deep 3-pointer, a four-point-play, and a slam dunk to propel the third-seeded Westfield Wolverines to a 72-57 victory over the 11th-seeded Chautauqua Lake Eagles in a Section VI Class C quarterfinal boys basketball game.

“The roof came off this place. It was awesome,” Westfield head coach Nolan Swanson said of his son’s stellar showing.

Carson Swanson finished with 35 points, 10 assists and five steals, as the Wolverines earned a trip to Jamestown Community College for the sectional semifinals next week.

While they all count the same, nine of his 35 points certainly had more of an impact on the home crowd. First, a deep 3-pointer in a five-point game got the crowd pumped up. Then, Swanson one-upped himself with a four-point play on a 3-pointer halfway between the 3-point line and half-court. Swanson screamed in excitement as his teammates, Mason Whitesell and Chris Vacanti, came to lift him from the ground.

“The atmosphere of the crowd made it even better. It was so loud in here,” Carson Swanson said. “It was a great feeling.”

Not many players can follow that moment with anything but a letdown, but Swanson is a different breed. Westfield’s all-time leading scorer, as a junior, responded with a slam dunk just seconds later to send the already raucous crowd into an outright frenzy.

“It was great because they were the biggest plays of the game. It pulled us ahead a little bit. It was just great to do it back-to-back,” Carson Swanson said.

After the stretch of nine points in less than two minutes to end the third period, Westfield’s five-point lead ballooned to 14. The Wolverines led the entire fourth quarter by double digits en route to a 15-point win.

Long before Carson Swanson’s theatrics, Westfield scored the first eight points of the game in just over three minutes of action. Chautauqua Lake did not score its first points until Nate Henry converted a layup through contact with 2:52 left in the period.

From that point on, however, Chautauqua Lake came to play. The Eagles finished the first quarter with nine of the final 13 points in the period to trail 12-9 after one frame.

“We just got going,” Chautauqua Lake head coach Devin Pope said. “We always tend to start slow, but once that first basket went down, we got rolling.”

After Westfield held the lead for nearly the entire first quarter, the second quarter featured seven lead changes. It’s not often that Carson Swanson is on the floor and another guard stands out more, but the second quarter belonged to Nick Jacobson of the visiting Eagles.

Jacobson had three go-ahead buckets, including a 3-pointer with just over 30 seconds left in the period to put the Eagles ahead 23-21 going to the break.

“They are a young team that is getting better. They have athletes that can run, and if they start knocking down shots, the game is going to be difficult,” Nolan Swanson said.

Through a half of play, the Chautauqua Lake defense held Carson Swanson to just 7 points. He was often triple-teamed and did not make a 3-point shot in the first half.

“Carson didn’t have the best first half, and we needed him and somebody else to step up,” Nolan Swanson said. “I put it on all of them to step up. It’s time, this is the get-to-JCC game. We are the higher seed, we need to take care of business here.”

“We needed to get going,” Carson Swanson added. “We had a slower first half and we weren’t knocking down as many shots as we should have.”

But a player as talented as Carson Swanson can only be held down for so long, and in the final moments of the third quarter, it did not matter who was in his way. Carson Swanson’s nine points to close the third quarter finished a 14-point period for him. He also had a 14-point fourth quarter after going 10 for 10 at the free-throw line.

“That killed us,” Pope said of Carson Swanson’s third-quarter outburst. “He’s a hell of a player.”

Even though he did things on Saturday that arguably no one else in the region could have done, Carson Swanson was far from alone in the victory. Zach Maguire had 16 points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots; Chris Vacanti had 12 points and seven rebounds; Aaron Fuller added 9 points, nine rebounds and five assists; and Mason Whitesell also added seven rebounds.

Chautauqua Lake was led by Jacobson with 27 points, while the rest of his team had 30 points split between six players: Nate Henry, Carson Fairbank, Bradyn Gibbs, Asher Olson, Trent Houser and Brendan Klossner.

Despite the loss, the future is bright for Chautauqua Lake, which is set to return its top five scorers next season — and all seven players to score on Saturday — with another year in Pope’s program.

“The strides we’ve made from Nov. 13 to now, it’s insane. I look back on the film and I don’t even recognize us as a basketball team,” Pope said. “These kids came with an attitude of willing to do whatever it takes and they bought in every single day. … That’s all you can ask for as a first-year coach trying to build the program.”

Pope, the school’s former 2,000-point scorer, took over the program this season.

“Their record was only 9-13 (coming in) but they definitely are playing better now than they were in the first half of the year,” Nolan Swanson said.

Pope finishes his first season as head coach at 9-14, but with a playoff victory on the road in overtime against Ellicottville to earn the right to play at Westfield, the school he now teaches at.

“I’m proud of us getting here after the start we had and the doubters we had at the beginning of the year. Just getting to a moment like this and giving them that experience is an awesome feeling,” Pope said. “I’m just very blessed to have the opportunity to continue to grow the program.”

Up next, the Wolverines will play in the 7:45 p.m. semifinal Tuesday at Jamestown CC against Frewsburg, which beat Maple Grove 71-58 in another Saturday quarterfinal.


Jacobson 9 5 27, Henry 2 2 6, Fairbank 2 0 5, Gibbs 2 0 4, Freaky 0 0 0, Olson 3 1 7, YAmbuhmeidan 0 0 0, Houser 1 1 3, Klossner 2 0 5, Brushaber 0 0 0, Reyda 0 0 0, Prewitt 0 0 0. Totals 21 9 57.


Lawrence 0 0 0, Whitesell 0 0 0, Stein 0 0 0, Maguire 7 1 16, Swanson 10 12 35, Thomas 0 0 0, Beadle 0 0 0, Anderson 0 0 0, Vacanti 5 0 12, Stellhorn 0 0 0, Wood 0 0 0, Fuller 4 1 9. Totals 26 14 72.

3-point goals–Jacobson 4, Fairbank, Klossner, Maguire, Swanson 3, Vacanti 2.

Chautauqua Lake 9 14 11 17 — 57

Westfield 12 9 27 24 — 72


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