Broncos keep Dukes’ surge at bay

Published 9:30 pm Thursday, January 22, 2015

Neither team shot particularly well as the Franklin High School Broncos held on to the 44-40 VHSL TriRivers District basketball victory, despite a third quarter surge by the visiting Windsor High School Dukes.

The game looked like it was going to be a blowout in the first half, as the Broncos jumped out to a 27-14 lead. However, the Dukes put together a 17-point third quarter to close to within four points at the end of the set, and they were even able to build a three-point lead in the fourth.

“It was a tale of two halves,” Franklin Head Coach Robby Cutchins said. “But one key is our defensive effort in the first half. To hold a varsity team like Windsor, which can shoot the ball very well, to 14 is impressive.”

“We had some defensive breakdowns, missed some foul shots and they got the best of us,” Windsor Head Coach Brandon Bossick added. “But we fought, and we didn’t make excuses. Down 13 at the half, we could have folded.

“But the kids kept fighting and put together a solid second half. That tree will bear fruit eventually.”

Wednesday’s game was all about defense, and Cutchins said that unfortunately the Broncos allowed the Dukes to get some open looks in the third. Windsor’s Chris Funai and Bruce Bryant hit back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers.

“In a low-scoring game, if you knock down three threes like that, you’ll close the gap very quickly,” he said.

Continuing the theme of the game, both teams bunkered down and battled to a 9-all stalemate in the fourth quarter, giving Franklin the win.

“I was proud of my boys,” Cutchins said. “I was extremely impressed with how well we battled adversity, particularly coming off of the big rivalry game against Southampton and having two tough games on back-to-back nights.”

The Dukes shot 29 percent from the field, while the Broncos managed to shoot 32 percent. In the poor shooting game, Franklin was more aggressive on the boards, out rebounding Windsor 44-26. The Broncos also got more second chance points, pulling down 16 offensive rebounds, five of those by Domique Gainey.

“It’s all about heart and determination,” Cutchins said. “Most nights, Gainey is giving up some height against the other team, but he’s still been a phenomenal inside presence for us all season.

“He’s also an important part of our offense, though it doesn’t show up in points. His rebounding leads to a lot of our transition points.”

Gainey led the Broncos on the boards with 15, and he contributed five points. Franklin’s Darrien Duck led all scorers with 15 points, and he had nine rebounds. Duck also had two blocks.

Keyshawn Reid led the Dukes in scoring with 10 points.

Windsor’s star center Malcolm “Woody” Greene did not suit up due to the flu. On the other side, Franklin’s Denard Williams, almost averaging a double-double, sat the game out with a fever as well.

Franklin point guard Quinton Lowe had five assists and seven points.

The Broncos (7-7) will travel to South Hill to face Park View today, with a tipoff of 7 p.m.

“We’re going up against another Division 3A basketball team, and we are looking forward to it,” Cutchins said. “We’re getting better and preparing for the Division 1A Tournament.”

The Dukes (0-12), meanwhile, will host Surry with a 7 p.m. tipoff.

“We are going to go back and work and get ready for Surry,” Bossick said. “We are coming up short, but we are not far off.

“With the new system, we have an opportunity to get back to the regionals and make the playoffs. We just have to win a couple of games in our conference tournament. We’ve got some work ahead of us, but we’re going to keep pushing and see where that takes us.”