Lady Broncos win regional championship

Published 6:43 am Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Franklin High School girls’ basketball team overcame a 12-point third quarter deficit and defeated West Point 68-63 in overtime to capture the Group A Region A Division I championship Saturday night.

Franklin advances to the Group A Division I state tournament and will play a quarterfinal game against Altavista, the second seed from Region B, at 2 p.m. Saturday at Longwood College in Farmville.

The Lady Broncos trailed 40-28 with 1:44 left in the third quarter but slowly chipped away at the lead. To open the fourth quarter, Keshara Bradley scored on a layup, was fouled and also sank the free throw to cut the West Point lead to 44-38. After Taylor Ashley hit a bucket for the Lady Pointers, Bradley followed with a three-pointer and Sharmese Fleetwood made two free throws to cut the West Point lead to 45-43 with 5:43 to play.

Franklin took its first lead of the game since early in the first quarter at 48-47 when Timia Hobbs dropped a 3-ball with 3:29 to play. The game see-sawed, and Franklin tied it at 59-59 when Fleetwood grabbed a rebound and hit from the inside with 42 seconds to play. The Lady Broncos (22-3) forced a turnover and held the ball for the last 40 seconds. With about 10 second to play, Franklin finally moved the ball toward the basket. Iesha Boone missed a desperation shot at the buzzer, and the game remained tied at 59-59.

In overtime, the Lady Broncos, playing without Hobbs, who fouled out, opened a 65-60 lead on a drive by Kiara Lee with 1:35 to play, and Franklin held the advantage the rest of the game.

West Point hurt its chances by missing 12 free throws in the fourth quarter and in overtime.

In the huddle at the end of the third quarter, Franklin head coach Mona Sumblin asked her team, “How bad do you want this?”

“It was a gut check and you got to want it, and that was it,” Sumblin said. “We know who we are and what we are fighting for.”

The Lady Pointers came out with an obvious height advantage and used it on offense. Kiera Gains came out smoking with eight points in the first quarter, driving the lane and using her height for easy buckets to lead West Point to a 14-9 advantage. Meanwhile, Franklin’s offense was off kilter due to the taller and quick defense of the Lady Pointers.

Hobbs committed her second foul in the second quarter, and the Franklin offense sputtered for awhile. The Lady Broncos found a spark late in the second quarter and went on a 7-0 run to get back in the game. When Iesha Boone drove to the hoop at 1:22. the Lady Broncos cut the West Point lead to 24-20. Franklin could not capitalize on a West Point turnover, however, and Gains hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to put the Lady Pointers up by 7.

Hobbs returned to the lineup in the third quarter but quickly committed her third foul. On defense, Franklin’s 2-3 zone allowed West Point wide-open shots on the inside and the Lady Pointers built a 40-28 lead. Again, the Lady Broncos hung in with key 3-pointers by Hunt and Hobbs and kept the West Point lead to 44-35 at the end of the quarter.

Sumblin said her outside shooters helped change the game in the second half.

“They were packing it in and we needed that outside shot, but at the end of the game Keshara and Pashawn (Hunt) popped some,” Sumblin said. “We have to shoot the basketball so we can pull that defense out and it will open up.”

Bradley finished the game with 19 points, Kiara Lee scored 18 points, and Hunt added 14 for Franklin. Gains finished with 19 points and Kristen Medlin scored 12 points for West Point.

Hobbs was named to the All-Region A team and Sumblin was named the Region A Coach of the Year.