The Frankfort Panthers had the perfect guy at the foul line.
And he came through in a big way.
Junior Jalen Washington hit a pair of free throws with 3.3 seconds left to lift FHS to a 61-60 win over Western Hills in 41st District play Friday night at Lapsley Cardwell Gymnasium.
“He’s our leader, he’s the quarterback of the team,” FHS coach Nick Barton said of Washington. “He’s the one I would want shooting the free throws at the end of the game, he’s the one that knocked them down. He was solid as a rock.”
Trailing 60-59 after a nice bucket from senior Kyle Fisher with seven seconds left, Washington got the ball, dribbled and was fouled at halfcourt. After making both, sophomore Dylan Jones’ heave from halfcourt at the buzzer bounced off the back of the rim.
“Everybody in the huddle knew we were going to win the game,” Barton said. “We knew exactly what we wanted to run, we executed it perfectly, didn’t necessarily know we’d get the foul but we got what we wanted.”
WHHS coach Geoff Cody wasn’t surprised by who had the ball at the end.
“We knew who was going to get the ball, they were going to get the ball to Washington and he was going to try to go,” Cody said. “It was just a bang-bang play at halfcourt and it is what it is.”
Junior Travis Skelton had 20 points and eight rebounds to lead the Panthers (4-13, 2-4). Washington added 12 points and junior Jeff Quire and sophomore Matthew Smith each had 10. Sophomore Anthony Robinson had eight points and eight rebounds before fouling out.
“Those guys never give up, they never quit, they always play to the buzzer,” Barton said. “Tonight was one of those situations where the hard work and the not giving up paid off for them.
“We took their punches and came right back with it and found a way to win the game.”
The game went back and forth all the way until the very end.
Skelton hit 1 of 2 free throws after Cody was called for a technical foul to give FHS a 56-55 lead with 1:41 left. But a steal on the next possession by sophomore Keaton Anderson led to a putback basket from Fisher to help WHHS reclaim the lead.
The Panthers came right back with an old-fashioned three-point play from Smith to make it 59-57 with 1:12 remaining. But after a free throw by Anderson and four missed free throws by the Panthers, Anderson found Fisher on the block for a nice lay-in and a 60-59 lead with seven seconds left.
“We knew when Robinson fouled out, in our last timeout we said we wanted to isolate Fisher on the block,” Cody said of the big man, who seconds earlier had a nice lay-in just rim out. “He made a great play. He did what we asked him to do.”
Fisher had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Wolverines (2-13, 0-4). Senior Kory Waller hit five 3-pointers to finish with 15 points and eight rebounds and senior ZhaVaughn Reed added 14 points and eight rebounds before fouling out.
“I told them before the game ‘Don’t leave the floor with anything left to give’ and we did,” Cody said. “We played hard for 32 minutes.”
WHHS hosted Model on Saturday night and is at Woodford County for another district game Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. FHS hosts Lexington Christian in the 11th Region All “A” Classic Tuesday at 8 p.m.
FRANKFORT (61) — Jalen Washington 12, DeShawn Newton 1, Travis Skelton 20, Anthony Robinson 8, Jeff Quire 10, Matthew Smith 10.
WESTERN HILLS (60) — Patrick Foley 3, ZhaVaughn Reed 14, Macaulay Hurst 2, Kory Waller 15, Keaton Anderson 3, Kyle Fisher 23.
Click here for more photos from the game.