Coming off a win over a top-five team with a matchup against a top-three team looming, state-ranked Franklin County was bound for a letdown Monday night, right?
Nope, not at all.
Three days after knocking off Sacred Heart Academy and less than 24 hours from facing Anderson County, sophomore Dasia Kilbourne and freshman Rebecca Cook helped FCHS rebound from a subpar first-half showing to beat Henry Clay, 61-48, at FCHS.
“Well, as young as we are you have to be worried just about every night out,” FCHS coach Joey Thacker said. “You kind of wonder if we’re going to look toward Anderson County or relish Sacred Heart, but all of our games the last two weeks of the season are against good teams. So we just asked them, ‘Do you only throw one punch or are you a heavyweight fighter?’ We’ve got to be heavyweight fighters from here on out.”
The Lady Flyers (19-4), who have won three straight, beat the Valkyries (ranked fifth in both the Associated Press state poll and the Herald-Leader’s Cantrall Ratings) 60-54 Friday night and will visit the Lady Bearcats (18-4, ranked third in both polls) today at 7:45 p.m. for a game that was rescheduled from earlier in the season because of weather.
“They’re awfully good. They’ve got a bunch of kids who’ve been together for a very long time. ... They share the ball well — everybody knows their role and everybody contributes,” said Thacker, whose team is ranked No. 11 in the AP poll and No. 6 in the Cantrall Ratings. “It’s a big game for them, big game for us. It will be a tough one over there that’s for sure.”
The Lady Flyers needed a half to really get going Monday night, as turnovers and poor shooting kept the game close at halftime. But that all changed in the second half, as they began to take control against the Blue Devils (11-11), who were on a five-game winning streak.
Leading by five at halftime, FCHS opened the second half with buckets from Kilbourne and Cook. Then, up 30-23 with less than three minutes to go in the third quarter, Kilbourne hit a 3 that pushed the margin to 10 and sparked a 16-4 run. A free throw by Cook made it 46-27 with six minutes left in the game.
Kilbourne (18 points and eight rebounds) and Cook (17 points) were the catalysts for FCHS in the third quarter, combining for all 17 of the team’s points.
“I thought both those kids did an exceptional job of scoring against pressure in the third quarter,” Thacker said of Kilbourne and Cook, who both scored 13 points in the second half. “I thought their full-court pressure allowed us to get some runout baskets in the third quarter and stretch our lead.”
The Lady Flyers made 13-of-21 free throws in the fourth quarter and finished 22 of 32 for the game. That was good enough to offset 27-percent shooting in the first half and 22 total turnovers.
“We played kind of lethargic, but sometimes you have to win ugly and I thought we did that,” Thacker said.
“We turned the ball over too much, but at the same time you have to credit Henry Clay. That’s one of the most athletic teams we’ve played and they may be the most athletic team in the region.”
Freshman Princess Stewart and sophomore Malaka Frank scored 13 and 11 points, respectively, for FCHS. They both had six rebounds, as did senior Nannilena White.
Sophomore T’Laya Lyvers scored 12 of her 16 points in the second half — mostly off runners — for the Blue Devils, who shot just 30.7 percent and committed 17 turnovers. Junior Kennedy Coney added 10 points.
HENRY CLAY (48) — Kennedy Coney 10, T’Laya Lyvers 16, Karmari Boyd 4, Nakyira Boyd 8, Kerrigan Davis 8, Jordyn Jackson 2.
FRANKLIN CO. (61) — Malaka Frank 11, Dasia Kilbourne 18, Princess Stewart 13, Anna Arrastia 3, Rebecca Cook 16.