Emerson's Brannon leading program to new heights

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - The past four seasons for Emerson Head Coach Lenny Dowell and senior Janae Brannon have had their share of ups and downs on the court.

"I took over the program to try and revitalize it," Dowell said. "I lucked out with having a player like her."

The lows - four wins during their first year together in 2012 and just six as a sophomore. "I cried like a baby after every game, and even during games from losing, and I still hate losing," Brannon said.

There was signs of progress, but still a long road to travel back to respectability for the program. "I had to take the tears wipe them and keep playing." Brannon said.

It was an incident Brannon's sophomore year - a fight she helped break up - which found her suspended the final six games of the regular season. That moment sparked a turnaround.

"I just grew up. I had to deal with it. That I'm going to be the leader," she said. "If you're going to be the best, you have to be able to make decision not 99 percent of the time, but 100 percent of the time because people depend on you."

The wins have followed. Last season, led by Brannon, the Eagles won 12 games, their most in program history according to Dowell. "That was a shock, I didn't see that coming."

This year, now a senior, Brannon cemented her legacy, eclipsing the 1,200 point mark to become the all-time leading scorer for the Eagles.

"The points really don't show what she's meant to the program," Dowell said. "The things that we went through have been beneficial because now she understands how to build a program and how to lead a program."

An adventure on a road to respectability.

"We started from the bottom, as you can see and we climbed to the top," Brannon added.  "We tried to be the best we could and overcame a lot of obstacles that people said we couldn't."


#1 - Janae Brannon, Emerson Girls Basketball

Eclipsed the 1,000 point mark in her career and is now the all-time leading scorer in girl's history with over 1,200 points.

#2 – Jernard Jackson, Lewiston-Porter Basketball

Set a single game record scoring 50 points in the Lancers win over Kenmore East.

“Jernard is the consummate team player. He is dedicated to the game of basketball. In over 20 years of coaching, I have not coached a harder worker. He is deserving of every accolade that comes his way" – Matt Bradshaw, Head Coach

#3 – Jordan Heinold, Immaculata Academy

Became the all-time leading scorer in program history, passing her sister Friday night in a win over Pioneer. She scored 26 points to pass her sister, Taylor. She currently has over 1300 points.

“Jordan has started since her freshman year and has made an impact since day one. She is a three year captain who leads both on and off the court.” –Andrea Drabik, Head Coach

#4 – Shakur Harris, South Park Basketball

Averaged more than 14 points per game and scored 20 points in the Sparks upset with over East

“Shakur had a great week and an even better day against East High School. His tempo on the court help lead his team.  It was contagious. The whole team played great in the victory.” – Peter Hudecki, Head Coach

#5 – Sara Pfeiffer, Olean Basketball

"Sara loves playing basketball. She wants to be driven and pushed. Sara is a natural leader. Her enthusiasm and passion, along with her talent, character, and competitive fire has united our team and inspired our team to work hard and to play together." - Randy Samuelson, Head Coach

# 6 – Frank Gengo, Sweet Home Hockey

Scored the game winning goal with less than a minute remaining in the game, leading the Panthers to a 6-5 win over Niagara Falls.

# 7 – Kaitlyn Drew-Mead, Monsignor Martin Hockey

Scored the game winning goal as MM improved to 10-0, 9-0 in league action following a 4-3 win over Amherst/Sweet Home/Clarence.

“Kaitlyn is the type of player any coach would be lucky to have. She works hard from the drop of the puck until the final whistle. She has unbelievable hands when it comes to handling the puck and she can snipe the corners of the net.” – Linda Mroz, Head Coach




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