The state-ranked Franklin County Lady Flyers have gone up against a handful of highly-ranked teams this season.
But Tuesday night they might’ve faced the best of the best.
FCHS found itself down big early and could never recover, falling to Elizabethtown 64-51 at FCHS.
“They were my pick to win the state tournament from Day 1 and they’re slowly molding into that kind of team,” said FCHS coach Joey Thacker, whose team was playing the first of four games in four nights. “They have all the pieces to the puzzle.”
The Lady Flyers (20-6), ranked fourth in the Herald-Leader’s Cantrall Ratings and 12th in the Associated Press state poll, have faced four teams ranked in the top five this season with the Lady Panthers (23-4) being the highest at No. 1 in the Cantrall Ratings and No. 2 in the AP state poll.
“It’s like I told our kids, ‘We’re not going to have to go through anything in the postseason that we didn’t already have to go through in the regular season,’” said Thacker, whose team lost a three-point game to third-ranked Anderson County a week ago. “You have to hope that that prepares you for when it counts and we’ll find out in a week.”
Six-foot-two junior Reauna Cleaver had 18 points — 10 in the fourth quarter — and nine rebounds to lead EHS, which has won eight straight and has won every game this season by at least nine points. Junior Darien Huff scored 17 points and 6-foot-1 sophomore Erin Boley — who has scholarship offers from Connecticut, Tennessee, Notre Dame and Duke — scored 13 of her 15 points in the first half and added six rebounds.
“It seemed like we were really focused. I thought we executed well, I thought we shot the ball really well,” said EHS coach Tim Mudd, whose team, like FCHS, has just one senior. “They have a very good team, they can certainly win this region.
“It’s a good win. I knew this was going to be a hard-fought one. ... I have a lot of respect for Joey and the program he runs here.”
Sophomore Dasia Kilbourne and freshman Rebecca Cook paced FCHS with 13 and 11 points, respectively. Kilbourne eclipsed 1,000 points for her career with a 3-pointer at the 7:17 mark of the second quarter and was honored with a plaque and game ball.
“She’s put up some big numbers on some big nights,” Thacker said of Kilbourne, who has played varsity since she was in seventh grade. “We’re trying to get her to evolve into more than just a scorer and that’s going to have to come if she wants to play at a high level.
“I’m just proud of her. There’s not a lot of (1,000-point scorers) walking around Frankfort and she’s been a pleasure to coach.”
The Lady Panthers never trailed, scoring the first six points of the game with two quick buckets from Boley. Then, holding onto a 10-6 lead, they scored 10 straight to build a double-digit advantage they wouldn’t relinquish.
After trailing by 19 at the start of the second quarter, the Lady Flyers trimmed the deficit down to 10 midway through after a bucket from Kilbourne and three straight points from senior Nannilena White made it 30-20.
But EHS scored the next seven points with four coming from Boley to push its lead back to 17 and FCHS never got closer than 11 after that.
“That was the difference — the first five-and-a-half to six minutes of the game. They shot it so good and we didn’t,” Thacker said. “We probably played pretty good the rest of the way.
“We outscored them by four the last three quarters, so I’m proud of our kids’ resiliency. I think we have some kids that just keep plugging away and that’s going to help us as time goes on.”
FCHS hosts Madison Central tonight at 6 p.m.
ELIZABETHTOWN (64) — Darien Huff 17, Livie Bowling 4, Rachel Warden 8, Taylor Thomas 2, Erin Boley 15, Reauna Cleaver 18.
FRANKLIN CO. (51) — Nannilena White 8, Malaka Frank 6, Dasia Kilbourne 13, Princess Stewart 4, Anna Arrastia 5, Rebecca Cook 11, Kindall Talley 4.