CATSKILL — It was a historic season for Catskill, thanks to a historic player. Senior star Justice Brantley ended a successful career in the orange and blue and will have his name next to legends.
Justice is now ranked third in most points scored in Catskill boys basketball history. Brantley scored 1,497 points, which put him behind John O’Neil (1,597 points) and Stacey O’Neil (1,499). Along with that, Brantley is a member of the 1,000-point club as well.
“I didn’t think I was surpassing all those players from the eighties!” Brantley said. “All those players back in the eighties, they were nasty; to reach that place, it was really an accomplishment.”
Along with having a successful personal career with the team, the Cats were able to win two Patroon Conference championships in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. The 2018-19 team put Justice at the helm of the team; something that Catskill coach Doug Lampman was very grateful for.
“All I had was him (Justice),” Lampman said. “Devon is a junior and he is a quiet leader; but Justice is the reason why we were able to overcome those games, not just because of his shooting and scoring but also all the stuff off the court.”
Brantley started basketball at a young age. He became interested in the sport by admiring his older brother, Jordan.
“I started liking it when I was real young,” Justice said. “It was probably about like third and fourth grade, watching my brother play. I was watching him play his whole career.”
According to Justice, Jordan is the reason that he wanted to play varsity basketball. Justice admired Jordan with god-like status; inspiring Justice to play the game.
“Justice played a lot of AAU, a lot of traveling; he played a lot of basketball,” Coach Lampman said. “Along with the youth program; he was traveling, playing some high level teams. That helped him to stay hungry.”
It was in middle school where, Justice set his eyes on the varsity basketball team.
“I’m in middle school, that’s when I started taking it seriously,” Brantley said. “People started telling me that I would be good. After that It all came down to the work that I had to put in to make myself good.”
According to Lampman, Justice is a self-made young man.
“He made that, he made that himself,” Coach Lampman says. “While a lot of these kids were natural athletes; Justice worked on his skills and put in time. As a coach, you can’t help but admire that and admire that kind of player.”
Catskill also has an offensive system that works well with Justice’s skill-set.
“The offense that we run here at Catskill we’ve been running this offense for about ten years,” Coach Lampman said. “Once they get it down and they get good at it, we put a lot of points up. It happened to be Justice; because he was with us for three years and he could make those baskets.”
Lampman and Brantley were both very proud of the productive offense that Catskill runs on the court, an open-motion set. According to Lampman, the offense creates scoring opportunity and a large amount of assists. It sets up certain players, like Justice, to reach the 1,000 point mark and beyond.
Looking ahead, Justice sees a bright future for not just his own career, but the next couple of years for Catskill as well.
“I expect, back-to-back-to-back championships,” Brantley said.
Brantley had nothing but the highest praise for his younger teammates.
“You got a young Kellen Gibbs, he is a freshman this year; He struggled at the beginning this year, but he filled in perfectly; Devon is a beast down low, he is going to be the leader of the team. Malik is a quick guard. They are all young so they are getting used to playing with each other.”
He also spoke highly of Bernvonis Donely and Logan Scott.
Brantley is looking ahead for himself as well.
“I’m gong to either a prep school or to college,” Brantley said. “I’ll be making my decisions in the next month.”
Justice plans to study business and sports management at college.
“His best basketball is ahead of him. Not behind him,” Lampman said. “Now he can look back on a rich career here at Catskill.”
Lampman always works with his players, on preparing them, mentally, for when their high school basketball careers are over.
“You need to appreciate every game,” Lampman said. “We try to teach that urgency so after that last game, I know that he is prepared mentally for what is coming and he prepared very well for it.”
Lampman finds that Justice is a great student, a player and is very coachable.
“He was a joy to coach and a joy to watch,” Lampman said. “I think Justice is prepared for the next level and that’s where you’re going to see him grow and his skills will be utilized.”