With a six-day layoff between games, Franklin County coach Joey Thacker was a little concerned.
“It’s always dangerous as young as we are,” he said.
Turns out he had nothing to worry about.
State-ranked FCHS overcame a sluggish start, using its defense to beat Western Hills 58-24 in 41st District action Friday night at Lapsley Cardwell Gymnasium.
The Lady Flyers (11-3, 3-0), ranked third in Herald-Leader’s Cantrall Ratings and seventh in the Associated Press state poll, struggled offensively to open the game but forced turnover after turnover to score the first 10 points and take a 12-2 lead after the first quarter.
“The game never really got a good flow to it. Early on it seemed like it was two dribbles, foul or two dribbles, turnover, for both teams,” said Thacker, whose team has won five straight.
“We were pretty sluggish offensively. Defensively I thought we were pretty active.”
The Lady Wolverines (7-5, 1-2) turned the ball over 11 times in the opening quarter and didn’t make their first shot until a minute remaining. They had barely even practiced in the last week because of bad weather and gym usage.
“Is that why we got beat? No. Franklin County is an excellent basketball team and he’s an excellent coach — we just weren’t ready,” said WHHS coach Buddy Ritchie, whose team was playing just its second home game of the season.
“We looked timid early in the game. Defensively early in the game we were doing okay, but when you don’t score it just makes it tough to keep digging a hole deeper and deeper.”
At halftime, FCHS led 26-5 and the cushion ballooned to as many as 31 in the second half. WHHS didn’t reach double digits until just under three minutes left in the third quarter when senior Aja Leachman’s bucket made it 38-10.
For the game, the Lady Flyers held the Lady Wolverines to 28 percent shooting (2 of 17 in the first half) and forced 31 turnovers.
“We’re pretty athletic and long and we’re trying to make it a priority to make people play backwards,” Thacker said.
Four players scored in double figures for FCHS with senior Nannilena White’s 13 (9 for 11 from foul line) leading the way. Freshman Rebecca Cook had 11 points (including three 3-pointers) and 10 rebounds, sophomore Dasia Kilbourne had 10 points and five rebounds and sophomore Anna Arrastia had 10 points off the bench.
“It was really nice to see Rebecca shoot that well. She just has to have more confidence in her jump shot,” Thacker said. “I thought Nannilena did a really good job of breaking their zone down with penetration. She’s pretty good when she does that and she was allowed to get into the lane and cause some help-side situations for them and get to the free throw line.”
Sophomore LaKenzie Ritchie had seven points and six rebounds and Leachman added seven points and four rebounds for WHHS. Sophomore Taylor Vance had eight rebounds off the bench.
“We’ve still got kids we’re begging to shoot the basketball and you shouldn’t have to do that,” coach Ritchie said. “Kids should want to shoot the basketball.”
Both teams are back in action Tuesday with games on the road. WHHS is at Model at 7:30 p.m. and FCHS is at Frankfort at 8 p.m. FCHS beat Frankfort 67-31 the first time around on Dec. 17.
FRANKLIN CO. (58) — Nannilena White 13, Malaka Frank 8, Dasia Kilbourne 10, Princess Stewart 4, Anna Arrastia 10, Rebecca Cook 11, Sierra Newton 2.
WESTERN HILLS (24) — Jenna Harrod 2, Taylor Vance 1, LaKenzie Ritchie 7, Taylor Slade 5, Shelby McDonald 2, Aja Leachman 7.
Click here for more photos from the game