FHS boys eliminated with 1-point loss in regionals

Published 9:44 am Friday, February 24, 2012

WEST POINT—The Franklin Broncos’ bid for a Sweet 16 berth in the Virginia High School League Division 1 boys’ basketball playoffs came up a point short after a frantic comeback against West Point in the Region A quarterfinals here Wednesday.

Franklin trailed by 10 points with two minutes remaining, scrambled to tie the game with 8 seconds left but lost 60-59 when the home team made a free throw with .3 seconds on the clock.

Franklin’s locker room was filled with tears after the heartbreaking loss, said head coach Danny Dillon. Players and coaches consoled one another for about an hour.

“These boys have heart,” Dillon said. “With two returning players from last year and to have a season like they had, amazing! I told the boys in the locker room after the game that I loved them, and it was followed by heartfelt sentiments from assistant coach Robbie Cutchins and assistant coach Artis. I also explained that it wasn’t God’s will for us to win this game, but it was His will for us to love Him, each other, our families and to represent our great high school and community in a positive way.”

Dillon said a “college-like atmosphere” in the West Point gym, including a pep band, created a difficult environment for the visitors.

“Every coach I talked to when scouting this team said their gym was a tough place to play because of their fans, and they were right,” Dillon said.

West Point senior guard L.A. Allen made life even tougher for FHS. Allen was “unstoppable,” Dillon said, in leading the Pointers with 23 points.

Franklin trailed 14-5 early before rallying for a 32-32 halftime tie. Freshman Adam Grant had 11 points in each half and was a big reason the Broncos were able to stick around.

“West Point was a great shooting team, and we had to stay in their face,” Dillon said. “I loved the way the boys didn’t fold in the first quarter but hustled their way into a tie at halftime.”

The Broncos trailed 46-42 heading into the fourth quarter, and West Point nailed two big three-pointers to take a 52-42 advantage with two minutes left.

“I called a timeout and told the boys that we were not out of it and to fight with everything they had,” Dillon said. “Just like I knew they would, they responded.”

Keonn Cosby got two big steals. He scored on one and on the other kicked to Grant, who knocked down a three-pointer to pull Franklin within five points.

The Broncos were down four points with 30 seconds remaining and tied it at 59-59 on a layup by Tyshaun Lowe with 8 seconds left.

After a timeout by Franklin, the Broncos applied full-court pressure and stayed tight on West Point’s best shooters. The Pointers’ Nate Washington, guarded by Lowe, “threw up a prayer” from the free-throw line. The ball hit the opposite side of the backboard and missed the goal, but the referee called a foul on Franklin with .3 seconds left.

Washington made the first free throw and missed the second. Grant heaved a shot the length of the court but to no avail.

“What can I say? It’s tough to see the referees step in and make a call like that,” Dillon said. “I never put a whole lot into refereeing because I know they have a job to do and so do the coaches. I also realize there are so many things that we could have done to not be in that situation. With that said, though, I thought No. 30 (Washington) threw up a prayer and it was answered by the ref.”

Grant had 22 points and four assists, and senior Lowe scored 19 points while grabbing 17 rebounds. Grant and Lowe were both selected to the All-Tri-Rivers District First Team All-District.

Jalen Vincent, who scored 7 points Wednesday night, was Second Team.

Deronte Holmes earned honorable mention.

“I want to thank our fans, community and The Tidewater News for all their support,” Dillon said. “You guys make coaching worth it.”