RICHMOND – The Franklin County boys basketball team overcame a scoreless second quarter to capture its first 11th Region tournament victory in the Scott Chalk era Thursday night at EKU’s Alumni Coliseum.
Despite trailing 24-21 at halftime and 39-35 after three quarters, the Flyers defeated 44th District runner-up Madison Southern 50-48.
FCHS will face a familiar opponent in Saturday’s semifinal match-up at 3:15 p.m. – Scott County, which defeated the Flyers 88-57 on Jan. 24.
But Saturday’s game didn’t matter to the FCHS players and coaches on Thursday. All they cared about was pulling off a victory that – in typical “Flyers at regionals” fashion – came down to the final minute.
Tied 48-48 with less than a minute to play, FCHS came out of a timeout and ran a play that found Eric Meyer at the top of key with the ball in hands. Slicing through the middle of the defense, Meyer dished the ball off to Chris Roberts, who scored the deciding bucket on an easy layup.
MSHS had a shot barely rim out inside 10 seconds, and after fouling a few times to get FCHS into the bonus, the Eagles sent Casey Tabor to the line for a 1-and-1 with five seconds remaining.
Tabor missed the free throw and MSHS rebounded but the Eagles were unable to get off a shot in time.
Chalk said Meyer’s execution made the game’s deciding play possible.
“That was a great pass and Chris made a nice play,” he said.
The play wiped out the horrendous second quarter performance and a bad stretch during the third quarter when FCHS found itself down 35-25 after MSHS started the period on an 11-2 run.
“We got our heads down a little bit in the second quarter but came right back in the third,” Chalk said. “We played hard without thinking about it. We didn’t shoot the ball well but sometimes that happens.”
The Flyers finished the third quarter on a 10-4 run that made their comeback in the final period possible. Chalk said credit belongs with his team for snapping out of its funk.
“If you look at our schedule, there’s nothing that can happen to us that we haven’t already been through,” he said. “We really don’t get too rattled.”
One thing that helped fuel the Flyer comeback was a strong defensive performance in the final quarter as FCHS held the Eagles to just nine points.
“Our defense held them in the 40s,” Chalk said. “We can’t do much better than that. We just sputtered around on offense.”
It also helped that Timmons – who had only two points at halftime – cut down his turnovers in the second half and ramped up his scoring efforts to lead all scorers with 14 points.
“Ryan didn’t shoot the ball well and was fumbling it early, but when he gets it going, he’s hard to handle on defense because he’s so quick,” Chalk said.
Also in double figures for FCHS were Roberts with 12 and Meyer with 10. Roberts had a double-double in the game as he also snagged a game-high 12 rebounds.
“Chris can really dominate the boards when he plays hard,” Chalk said.
The Eagles were led by a duo of double digit scorers: Tyler Abshear with 12 and Chris Roberts with 11.
As for Chalk winning his first game in the 11th Region tournament, the coach said “getting off the schnide” was far from his mind.
“I never even thought about it until somebody brought it up,” he said. “I’ve coached and won quite a few games in this building, but when somebody brought it up, I thought ‘Yeah, that’s right.’”
FRANKLIN COUNTY (50) – Ryan Timmons 14, Chris Roberts 12, Eric Meyer 10, Casey Tabor 8, Garrett Hamilton 6.
MADISON SOUTHERN (48) – Tyler Abshear 12, Chris Roberts 11, Damien Harris 8, Mike Rothemel 6, Brandon McGuire 6, Spencer Stone 5.