The fouls piled up, players went to the bench, and still Franklin County’s boys basketball team stayed in the game.
But when Madison Central’s weakness became its biggest advantage, the Indians pulled away for a 75-72 win over FCHS in the 11th Region Tournament Thursday at the Frankfort Convention Center.
Madison Central, the defending state champion, went 16 for 18 from the foul line in the final 7:41 of the game.
“In the first half we made 9 of 10,” MCHS coach Allen Feldhaus Jr. said about foul shots. “In the third we couldn’t hit anything, but in the fourth we stepped up and made them.
“That’s been our Achilles heel all year. We’ve lost 10 games, and I guarantee in five of them we shot under 50 percent on free throws.”
Thursday the Indians shot 71.4 percent (30 for 42). The Flyers shot the same percentage, but with exactly half the shots (15 for 21).
“We gave a good effort,” FCHS coach Tommy Johnson said. “Give them credit. They knocked down free throws when they were supposed to.”
Central (22-10) led 18-16 after the first quarter and 34-29 at halftime.
FCHS’ Lorenzo McCaskell hit two foul shots with a second left in the third quarter to tie the game at 47 going into the final period.
The Flyers (15-13) took a 52-51 lead on a 3-pointer by Rylan Rowe with 6:31 left in the game, and they extended their advantage to 55-52 on another 3 by Rowe with 5:41 remaining.
Franklin County’s last lead came at 57-54 after a layup by Rowe with just over five minutes on the clock. A layup by Demarcus George cut the Flyers’ lead to one, and two foul shots by George with 4:52 remaining gave the Indians the lead for good at 58-57.
Despite Madison Central’s free throw shooting, the Flyers stayed within striking distance. Central’s largest lead in the fourth quarter was five points, 68-63, with 1:56 left, but two foul shots by Ryan Schneider and a putback by Chris Roberts pulled FCHS within a point, at 68-67, at the 1:15 mark.
MCHS scored the next five points — three on free throws — and the Flyers didn’t get closer than the final margin the rest of the way.
“Except for a couple of miscues on execution in the last minute, we played a good game,” Johnson said. “We did a good job attacking the basket and finishing.
“One thing that hurt us was we gave up too many offensive rebounds, and that’s something we’ve been harping on the last couple of days — block out, block out, block out.
“In every game you’re going to miss a blockout and they’re a good team and will make some plays, but they got way too many.”
Madison Central outrebounded FCHS 44-33, and the Indians had 18 offensive boards.
What didn’t hurt the Flyers, according to Johnson, was fouls. FCHS had two players foul out and another finish the game with four fouls.
“It didn’t hurt because the guys coming off the bench know their roles,” Johnson said. “We’re good with our players one through nine. Foul trouble didn’t hurt us, but the amount of free throws they shot did hurt us.”
Rowe finished with a game-high 30 points. He made three 3-pointers and was 5 for 5 from the line.
Also in double figures were Lorenzo McCaskell with 13 points and Roberts with 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds. McCaskell also had four assists and three steals.
Sam Jones led the Indians with 20 points, and George finished with a double-double of 19 points and 13 rebounds.
FCHS graduates seven seniors off this year’s team — Rowe, Roberts, McCaskell, Wylie, Quenton Brownlee, Matthew Lee and Sam Mackey.
FRANKLIN CO. (72) — Quenton Brownlee 5, Demetrius Wylie 6, Rylan Rowe 30, Lorenzo McCaskell 13, Chris Roberts 10, Ryan Schneider 8.
MADISON CENTRAL (75) — Demarcus George 19, Sam Jones 20, Coty Alexander 6, Kirkland Humphrey 9, Cameron Thomas 12, Isaiah Johnson 7, John Williams 2.
To see more photos from the game, click here.