Franklin County’s girls basketball team missed out on a chance to play Sacred Heart Academy a week ago.
When the Lady Flyers took on SHA Friday, they made the most of it.
Henry Clay at Franklin Co.
“This is as big a win as we’ve had here for awhile,” FCHS coach Joey Thacker said after his team defeated the Valkyries 60-54 at FCHS.
Sacred Heart (18-6) is ranked No. 3 in the state in the Herald-Leader’s Cantrall ratings, No. 4 in the Associated Press poll and No. 6 in the Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous ratings.
Franklin County is ranked No. 8 in the state in the Cantrall and Litkenous ratings, and the Lady Flyers received votes but weren’t in the top 10 in the Associated Press poll.
Both the Valkyries and FCHS were in the semifinals of the Louisville Invitational Tournament last week, where SHA defeated Anderson County and the Lady Flyers fell to Butler.
Butler edged Sacred Heart 50-49 in the LIT championship game.
“We were coming off a tough loss,” FCHS sophomore Malaka Frank said about the Butler game. “We knew what we had to do, and there was no need to be intimidated.”
The Lady Flyers clearly weren’t intimidated, jumping out to an 8-0 lead with Frank scoring six points and Princess Stewart two.
Sacred Heart came back to tie the game and took a one-point lead twice in the first quarter, but FCHS’ Anna Arrastia hit a 3-pointer with two seconds left to give the Lady Flyers a 17-15 lead at the end of the period.
“In the first quarter No. 10 (Arrasita) hit two 3-pointers,” SHA coach Donna Moir said. “We were helping off of her, and to credit she knocked them down.”
The game was close through the first three quarters, but SHA never led by more than one point while Franklin County’s largest lead was eight.
The game was tied at 27 at halftime and at 34 with 1:42 left in the third quarter, but FCHS’ Nannilena White scored on two layups in the final 1:10 to give the Lady Flyers a four-point cushion, 38-34, going into the final period.
Sacred Heart’s Lydia Taylor opened the fourth quarter with a layup, pulling the Valkyrieswithin two points, but that was as close as they got the rest of the way.
FCHS scored the next six points — on layups by Frank and White and two free throws by White — to go ahead by eight, 44-36, with 5:20 left in the game.
SHA’s Raven Merriweather hit a 3-pointer with 17 seconds remaining to cut Franklin County’s lead to three at 57-54, but White hit one free throw and Dasia Kilbourne hit two in the final 12 seconds to seal the win.
“At the end of the game when we were driving, we weren’t looking for fouls,” Thacker said. “We were looking to score. The fouls were just gravy.”
Frank and White both finished with 18 points to lead Franklin County (18-4), and Stewart finished with eight points and 10 rebounds.
“People think of her as a 4 or 5, but I actually think she’s a point,” Thacker said of Frank. “She laughs when I tell her that, but I believe she could play at the one spot at the Division I level. We really have five points, and they have a quick first step.”
That helped them on defense, where they held Merriweather to 4 for 16 shooting and Meghan Colley to 2 for 12. The Valkyries were 4 for 17 on 3-pointers.
“No. 3 (Frank) was a tough matchup,” Moir said, “but we didn’t do a very good job on offense. We gave up the offensive rebound and put them at the free throw line too much.
“Coach Thacker does a great job. They controlled the tempo. We wanted to play a little faster. We shot 4 for 17 on 3-pointers, and I thought we settled for some 3s when we could have gotten inside a little more.”
DaiJia Ruffin was an inside presence for SHA, finishing with 18 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists. She went 8 for 14 from the field and Taylor was 5 for 6.
The rest of the team was 8 for 37 for 21.6 percent.
“We played a match-up zone, and they weren’t sure if it was 2-3 or 3-2,” Thacker said. “That shows progress on our kids’ part.”
“We have so many different defenses we run they couldn’t anticipate it, and we’re fast,” Frank said. “That makes it easier.”
FCHS outrebounded Sacred Heart 40-36. Franklin County committed just seven turnovers, and SHA had 10.
“All in all it’s a good team win,” Thacker said. “I told the girls our schedule was top heavy at the end of the year. I was worried about our strength of schedule, but I felt like our kids were ready to play. Every time Sacred Heart responded, we’d make a play to get back on top.”
The Lady Flyers have a busy week this week with four games. They host Henry Clay in a tripleheader Monday and go to Anderson County Tuesday to make up a game that was snowed out.
Friday is a doubleheader at home with the boys team against Madison Central. The boys game is at 6:30 p.m. with the girls game scheduled for 8:15.
FCHS hosts Boyd County Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
SACRED HEART (54) — Ashley Johnson 2, Meghan Randal 4, Raven Merriweather 11, Meghan Colley 8, DaiJia Ruffin 18, Lydia Taylor 11.
FRANKLIN CO. (60) — Nannilena White 18, Malaka Frank 18, Dasia Kilbourne 8, Princess Stewart 8, Anna Arrastia 6, Rebecca Cook 2.