The Woodford County Lady Yellowjackets cranked up their defensive pressure in the second half and took advantage of a Franklin County team decimated by injury, beating the Lady Flyers, 48-38, for the championship of the 41st District Tournament Friday night at the Civic Center.
Much has been said about a slew of injuries that have hit the snake bit Lady Flyers throughout this season, and it was just too much to overcome against a young Woodford team that has improved steadily.
Both teams move on to the 11th Region Tournament starting Monday at EKU - Woodford County at 21-11 and Franklin County at 17-15.
“I told our kids before the game, if we get beat by 70 tonight, I was gong to be proud of them either way because of everything they fought through and dealt with throughout the course of this season,” Franklin County coach Joey Thacker said. “Whichever team we draw in the regional tournament, we’ll line up and play with who we have against who we get.”
Not to be lost in all of this is through three quarters-plus Friday, Franklin County played as well defensively as Woodford did.
The Lady Flyers, in fact, led all the way until the open seconds of the fourth quarter when Shelby McDonald hit a three-pointer to put the Lady Yellowjackets up, 25-24.
The two teams were nip and tuck most of the way down the stretch until Woodford County center Jessica Morgan converted a three point play with 1:35 to go that put WCHS up, 43-38.
“I thought they did a very good job scheming against the personnel that we had on the floor,” Thacker said. “And I thought we just turned it over a bunch there late when we had it to two or three. We’d either miss a two-foot bunny or we’d turn it over. That really cost us from getting in front, and then the momentum probably changes.”
Woodford County coach Jay Lucas was keenly aware of the Lady Flyers personnel shortages, especially in the backcourt, and he adjusted his team’s defensive strategy accordingly, bringing in a lot more heat, both full court and half court.
“We don’t normally have a half court trap, but we put in in for the Frankfort game, and we decided to use it again tonight because of their inexperience at guard,” Lucas said. “They have two guards out, and Ashli Mayes is not out there, obviously, so we thought it would be effective, and it was at times.”
“I’m not so sure it was their defensive intensity that bothered us,” said Thacker, “I think it was just the scheme itself (primarily 1-2-2) that put some people in some uncomfortable situations on our team.”
It also didn’t help that Lucas’ team warmed up from three-point range as the game went on, after being ice cold most of the first half.
FCHS led the Lady Yellowjackets, 18-14, at halftime.
“We are a three-point shooting team, especially when the other team zones us like they zoned us,” Lucas said. “We like to get it in the middle and fan it out for those threes.”
“I feel like we did a good enough job with our ball pressure, but it’s just hard to score 38 points and beat anybody in the final game of a tournament,” Thacker said.
Junior forward Raven Timmons led Franklin County in scoring with 13 points, and guard Dasia Kilbourne, an eighth grader, added 11 points.
Junior forward-center Megan Gearhart led the Lady Flyers on the boards with nine rebounds, and Kilbourne added six.
Chelsey Ford led Woodford County in scoring with 14 points, and Catie Fletcher added 13 and McDonald 12.
The result left Thacker and the Lady Flyers wondering what might have been.
“It’s kind of a gift, I guess, for a lot of teams in our district because we were decimated by injuries,” Thacker said. “I have no doubt we would have walked through this thing if we had had everybody.”
WOODFORD CO. (48) - Chelsey Ford 14, Catie Fletcher 13, Shelby McDonald 12, Jessica Morgan 5, Anastayzia Reed 3, Hannah Worrell 1.
FRANKLIN CO. (38) - Raven Timmons 13, Dasia Kilbourne 11, Malaka Frank 5, Megan Gearhart 4, Tori Zeigler 3, Lauren Taylor 2.