Hoop dreams include repeat

Published 11:15 pm Thursday, December 11, 2008

FRANKLIN — Both Franklin High School basketball teams are looking for a repeat of their successful seasons in 2007-2008. The Lady Broncos made it to the Group A Division 1 state championship last year and the boys’ team went to the final 16.

The girls team may have a tougher road without the height of Janice Holeman and Ashley Putnam and the athleticism of Ebony Joyner, all lost to graduation.

Returning is point guard Timia Hobbs, who shone in last year’s state championship game. Other projected starters are Iesha Boone, Keshara Bradley and Kiara Lee. Sharmese Fleetwood will also return to the team after a year off. Diamond Bowers is a work in progress at center.

Without height, the Lady Broncos will be expected to push the ball upcourt with its guards on offense. The team’s slogan this year is “they might have height but we’ve got speed, and we’ve got determination, that’s all we need.”

“We’ve got good guards. We don’t have height,” said Mona Sumblin, Franklin head coach. “We’re going to have to use our quickness.”

The Lady Broncos’ patented full court press, which won so many games for the team over the last two years, may turn into a three-quarter press this season. Buffalo Gap beat Franklin in the state championship game by breaking the press over the top.

“That’s our defense. We play a 1-2-2 even in the press. We are also going to play some man-to-man this year,” Sumblin said.

It will be hard to repeat last year’s 24-2 record.

“I think we will be competitive. I’m hoping we have an edge based on our experience,” Sumblin said.

That and a Tri-Rivers District that was less than stellar last year.

The boys’ team will have more experience, once the players actually get on the court. Because of the extended football season, the Broncos have postponed five games. The team is expected to hit the court at Arcadia on Dec. 16.

“The bottom line is in a single A school a lot of kids play basketball and football. We had roughly 10 varsity players that are in football right now,” said Franklin head coach Danny Dillon. “The rest of the state is going to have four weeks on us. But I am proud of football and don’t want to pull anything away from what they are doing.”

Dillon said the basketball team went 20-6 in 2004-05 when the football team won the state championship. “Maybe it was because we played a month less of basketball. We did work really hard over Christmas break and we will do that this year’,” Dillon said.

Expected back from last year’s squad are Donzell Shearin, Derrick Thompson, Ashley Lee, Daquan Frazier, Malik Brown and Antonio Smith.

Offensively, Dillon said he does not plan on adding any new sets from last year’s play book.

“We will try to push it and run up-tempo but we will also have set plays and continuous motion,” Dillon said. “We are small and look to press and pick up the speed of the game.”

The Broncos, 11-12 last year, will mainly play man-to-man defense with some zone sprinkled in.

“The zones are great and going to work against some teams, but ultimately you’ve got to teach the kids man-to-man,” Dillon said. “We’ll mix it up depending on the team. If they can’t shoot outside, we will pack it in. If not, we will play man.”

Dillon said the Tri-Rivers District will probably be up for grabs among four teams ­— Sussex Central, Surry County (which went to last year’s Group A Division 1 title game), Chesterfield Community and Franklin.

“Sussex returns everyone. Surry and Chesterfield lost some but not too much,” he said. “We were right in it last year. I see it being one of those four teams winning it.”