- Associated Press - Thursday, March 20, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Bryan Frampton was the quintessential tough sports dad, a former player consumed by Poca High School basketball and always analyzing the performances of his two sons.

Frampton lost his battle with cancer at age 44 in December, shortly before the season began. His memory is the driving force behind Noah and Luke Frampton’s pursuit of fulfilling their dad’s last words: “You’re going to win it all. I guarantee it.”

A possible state championship is two victories away.

After an early-season loss, Poca has run off 23 consecutive wins entering the Class AA semifinals Friday against Bluefield.

“It definitely gives me more strength to play harder, to play faster and to play for him,” said Noah Frampton, a junior and the Dots’ leading scorer.

To honor their father, Noah and his younger brother Luke have taken turns wearing the No. 34 jersey used by Bryan Frampton when he played at Poca in the late 1980s.

Noah wore it Wednesday when the Dots beat Fairmont Senior 55-40 in the quarterfinals. Luke Frampton, a freshman, was the star of the game with 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Noah chipped in with 10 points and seven assists.

“They’ve got some of their dad in them,” said Allen Osborne, who coaches the boy as he did their father. “They’re tough, competitive kids. And he’d have been really proud of them.

“They could have said ‘I don’t feel like doing this.’ But no, they took the other road. They said, we’re going to play and we’re going to make our dad proud. And they have. They’ve handled it very well.”

So has their mom, Becky, who had both smiles and tears during Poca’s quarterfinal win. Before the game, she pulled out a charm necklace containing Bryan’s thumbprint. Some friends had gotten it for her after the funeral.

“I never have worn it before, because I was always afraid I’d lose it,” she said. “But I got it out today.

“Obviously we’ve had a lot of heartache. It’s been a really bittersweet thing.”

Basketball and family were Bryan Frampton’s passions. He wasn’t shy about sharing his opinion, especially on how his sons played.

Becky Frampton said she and her husband always drove separate cars to games. There were two reasons: He wanted to leave early to get a good seat, “and he ran his mouth,” she said. “And I was always late because I didn’t want to hear it.

“He coached all the way home,” she said. “So if we won, the boys rode home with him. If we lost, they rode home with me because they didn’t want to hear their dad’s mouth all the way home.”

Asked what in particular his dad focused on, Noah Frampton said, “Everything. My dad pointed out everything as we played - the goods, the bads, the everything. Especially the bads. Yeah, he’s yelling at us up there.”

Becky and Bryan Frampton started dating in junior high school. Upon graduation from Poca, Bryan Frampton entered the Navy. A year later at age 20, cancer was detected in his lower right leg and it was amputated.

Eighteen months ago, the cancer returned in his neck and shoulder area, and Bryan’s condition quickly worsened to the point that he couldn’t attend his sons’ games anymore.

Bryan Frampton’s last conversation with his family, of course, was about basketball.

Noah and Luke had just returned home from practice and were about to play in a scrimmage. The father was asked whether he thought Poca could win the state championship this season.

“And he said, ‘you’re going to win it all. I guarantee it,’” Becky Frampton said.

After the funeral in December, Osborne had the No. 34 jersey framed and brought to the family’s home. That’s when the boys came up with the idea to switch jersey numbers.

Normally, Luke Frampton wore No. 14. Noah was No. 1. It was decided that they’d alternate wearing No. 34.

“I said, ‘yes sir! Whatever we need to do,’” Osborne said.

Luke Frampton, too, has drawn strength from his father’s memory and jersey.

“He’s there helping me through everything,” he said.

Besides being a small community dealing with the Frampton’s loss, the team has had its own lineup issues. Starting senior point guard Cam Cottrill suffered a torn knee ligament in mid-February and senior post player Jake Payne missed six weeks with a foot injury.

Through it all, Poca’s margin of victory has been more than 33 points, nearly matching Bryan Frampton’s jersey number.

“It’s been a real lifeline for my boys to stay busy,” Becky Frampton said. “We’ve been really blessed to have a winning season.”



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