The third time was not the charm.
Frankfort hung tough but didn’t have enough in the end, falling to Woodford County 66-57 in the opening round of the 41st District Tournament Wednesday night at the Frankfort Convention Center.
The Panthers (5-24) lost to the Yellow Jackets (15-14) twice in the regular season, blowing an 11-point halftime lead in the first game and losing 80-62 before giving up a fourth-quarter lead in the second game and losing 64-60.
“We knew we could play with them. We felt confident we could stay with them the whole game — we’d stayed with them all year like that,” FHS coach Nick Barton said.
“We’ve struggled with games like that all year long where we just couldn’t find ways to pull one out at the very end like that.”
WCHS used a late run and superb free-throw shooting down the stretch Wednesday night to clinch a spot in the 11th Region Tournament and earn a chance to play Franklin County (15-11) for the district title Friday at 8:15 p.m. WCHS beat FCHS 72-64 in the title game last year.
“We’re looking forward to another shot at them. They’ve had our number a couple of times this year,” said WCHS coach Scott Hundley, whose team lost to FCHS by six and 15. “When you get to the district championship anything can happen and we’re just looking forward to the opportunity.”
Senior Eli Boggess had 26 points — 15 in the fourth quarter — and seven rebounds, senior Grayson Graf scored 20 points and senior Samuel Souers added 10 points to lead the Yellow Jackets, who had lost four of five.
Junior Jalen Washington scored 32 points — 12 in the fourth quarter — for the Panthers, who end the season having lost 11 straight. Junior Travis Skelton had eight points and sophomore Anthony Robinson added eight points and nine rebounds.
“We knew before from playing them twice that they are way better than their record shows,” Hundley said.
The game was close throughout until WCHS gave itself a little cushion toward the end.
After sophomore DeShawn Newton’s bucket gave FHS a 47-46 lead with less than six minutes to go, WCHS went on a 9-1 run. Souers converted a three-point play and Graf hit a pair of free throws to make it 55-48 with less than two minutes left.
“They executed the game plan absolutely perfectly,” Barton said. “It’s just one of those things where we had some guys foul out at the end, a couple calls didn’t go our way — that’s just life, that’s just the way the ball bounces.”
The Panthers got within three twice in the final 30 seconds. But after Washington’s bucket with 19 seconds left cut it to 60-57, the Yellow Jackets sealed it.
On the inbounds, FHS failed to get a steal or a foul. Graf scored a layup and an intentional foul was called on the play with 10.8 seconds remaining. He made both free throws and Boggess followed with a pair of free throws for the final margin.
WCHS went 18 for 21 from the foul line in the fourth quarter. Boggess was 7 for 8 and Graf 5 for 6.
“Part of our game plan was to try and get to the line,” said Hundley, whose team made 9 of 13 free throws through the first three quarters. “Game plan didn’t really work until about the fourth quarter and we started attacking the goal and getting some and-1s and getting some extra free throws.”
While the season didn’t go as planned for FHS, the future looks bright as it loses just one senior in Tre Winkfield.
“We should be even better next year,” Barton said. “We played really well the last few games. Hopefully we have some more kids come out next year that didn’t come out this year that will be excited about Frankfort High basketball again.”
FRANKFORT (57) — Jalen Washington 32, Tre Winkfield 2, DeShawn Newton 4, Travis Skelton 8, Anthony Robinson 8, Jeff Quire 3.
WOODFORD CO. (66) — Samuel Souers 10, Eli Boggess 26, Grayson Graf 20, Colton McCrady 6, Sawyer Scandore 4.
To see more photos from the game, click here.