Lady Broncos win opener in state tournament

Published 2:27 pm Saturday, March 7, 2009

Defense was the name of the game Saturday, and the Franklin High School girls’ basketball team had it.

The Lady Broncos completely stifled Altavista and downed the Lady Colonels 42-30 in the quarterfinals of the Group A Division 1 state tournament at Longwood University.

Franklin advances to the state semifinals at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Siegel Center in Richmond and will play Buffalo Gap. The winner of that game goes to the state championship game at 2 p.m. on Friday.

The contrast between the teams here Saturday was obvious from the beginning. While Franklin played at breakneck speed on offense, Altavista deliberately slowed the game down and practiced patience. Both squads opened the game sloppily, and the Lady Broncos looked nervous.

After allowing Kiki Crews to have her way twice on layups to open the game, the Franklin defense tightened up and the Lady Colonels were content on setting up at half court. Free throws by Kiara Lee and Sharmese Fleetwood tied the game at 8-8 at the end of the first quarter.

Franklin (22-3) quickly came out in the second quarter and took a 5-point lead on a 3-pointer by Lee and a drive by Timia Hobbs.

Altavista’s center, Chelsea Stephens, committed her third foul at 5:56 of the quarter, taking away the team’s height. Franklin’s defense became its offense. The Lady Broncos held the Lady Colonels to just two points in the second quarter. The Lady Broncos scored the last seven points of the half, including six points by Lee, who ended the half with 13 points.

In the third quarter, the Lady Broncos went to the 3-point game. Keshara Bradley and Hobbs both hit bombs to put Franklin up 28-14 with 2:09 to play in the period. Again, Franklin held the Lady Colonels to just four points in the third quarter.

Altavista showed some life in the fourth quarter and went on a 6-0 run to cut the Franklin lead to 33-22 with 3:50 to play. Franklin played sloppily at the end of the game, but the Lady Colonels were down too far to make it matter.

Mona Sumblin, Franklin head coach, said she was surprised that Altavista did not play more aggressively on offense.

“She (Crews) stopped herself and they just kept the ball up front. We were trying to cover 22 (LaToya Tucker) because we knew she could shoot the the 3. They kind of shot themselves in the foot. I don’t think they attacked enough,” Sumblin said.

Sumblin did give credit to Fleetwood for shutting down Stephens, who had a big height advantage.

Franklin was led by Lee with 14 points and Hobbs with 11 points. Crews scored 12 points for Altavista.