Girls 41st District final: FCHS hears coach loud and clear

Lady Flyers jump on WHHS early, cruise to district title after Thacker’s ultimatum

By Linda Younkin, Published:

Franklin County’s girls basketball team was having a bad practice Thursday, and FCHS coach Joey Thacker had seen enough.

“We had an awful practice yesterday (Thursday),” Thacker said after the Lady Flyers won the 41st District Tournament Friday at the Frankfort Convention Center.

“I told the starters if we weren’t up by 10 at the end of the first quarter, they weren’t going to start in the region.”

Message received.

FCHS (24-6) scored the first 17 points of Friday’s game and went on to a 66-35 victory over Western Hills in the championship matchup.

“That was a pretty good thing to get us going,” FCHS senior point guard Nannilena White said about Thacker’s plan. “If we played like this all year we would not have lost a game at all.”

The Lady Flyers used their defense and inside game to build their early lead.

“We have such a habit of being too methodical early,” Thacker said. “Tonight we were very, very active early. We were playing a funky zone the looks like one thing and is something else, and it limited their shots.”

Western Hills’ first basket was a 3-pointer by LaKenzie Ritchie with 24 seconds left in the first quarter. At the end of the period FCHS led 19-3.

“I told the girls the one thing we couldn’t go was let them get an early lead,” WHHS coach Buddy Ritchie said. “Coach Thacker is a great coach and they’re a great team, but I just wish we didn’t play scared, and I thought we played scared and timid early and found ourselves in a 20-point hole.”

At halftime FCHS was up 28-10, and the Lady Flyers outscored Western Hills 8-2 over the last two minutes of the third quarter to lead 49-21 when it ended.

“You’re not going to make up a 20-point difference against Franklin County,” coach Ritchie said. “They’re too solid.”

Franklin County didn’t let up, going on an 8-3 run to open the final period and take a 57-24 lead.

“We hit a little lull when we were trying to make cross-court passes in the second quarter,” Thacker said. “Anna (Arrastia) was great off the bench for the second game, and we shared the ball well.”

White had five assists, Dasia Kilbourne had three, and Arrastia had two.

After winning Wednesday’s semifinal game against Woodford County, Western Hills assured itself of a spot in the 11th Region Tournament for the first time since 2009, but Ritchie said his team wasn’t resting on its laurels.

“I think the girls play hard every game,” he said. “They weren’t going through the motions, but Franklin County takes away a lot of things you want to do.”

FCHS had four players in double figures, led by Malaka Frank with 18 points. Rebecca Cook finished with 13 points, Arrastia had 11, and White chipped in 10 points.

Princess Stewart grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds for Franklin County.

Samantha Roberts was Western Hills’ top scorer with 10 points, and Taylor Slade led the Lady Wolverines (16-12) with seven rebounds.

Both teams advance to the 11th Region Tournament, which begins Monday at the Frankfort Convention Center.

FCHS plays Madison Southern Monday at 6:30 p.m., and WHHS takes on Henry Clay Tuesday at 8:15 p.m.

“I told the kids we’re still playing,” Ritchie said, “and a lot of teams’ seasons are over. Next week we’re playing in the region. We win that one and people will forget about this one.”

White was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. Also named to the all-tournament team were Frank, Arrastia and Cook from FCHS; Slade, Jenna Harrod and Aja Leachman of WHHS; BriAnna Burbridge and Jasmine Turpin of Frankfort High; and Chelsey Ford and Anastayzia Reed of Woodford County.

WESTERN HILLS (35) — Alexis True 3, Taylor Vance 1, LaKenzie Ritchie 6, Taylor Slade 8, Shelby McDonald 3, Kimber Sutton 2, Aja Leachman 2, Samantha Roberts 10.

FRANKLIN CO. (66) — Nannilena White 10, Malaka Frank 18, Dasia Kilbourne 6, Princess Stewart 4, Anna Arrastia 11, Rebecca Cook 13, Kindall Talley 4.


Click here for more photos from the game...

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