Backyard Basketbrawl: Franklin sweeps Southampton

Published 2:16 pm Friday, January 15, 2016

Franklin and Southampton have split the on-court version of the Backyard Brawl in each of the last four seasons, but a 22-12 third-quarter run in Wednesday night’s contest helped the Broncos to a season sweep of the hated Indians — their first since the pair resumed the rivalry during the 2010-11 season.

Sophomore Deuntae Jefferson led the blue and gold with 15 points and nine rebounds, while his older brother, Quayshawn, recorded his sixth double-double of the season — 14 points and 11 rebounds — in the 72-60 win.

“I was impressed with our effort on defense,” Franklin head coach Robby Cutchins said. “When you play in a game of this magnitude with the rivalry being what it is, sometimes you find yourself exhausting more energy than you need to early on. For us to be able to manage our defense the way we did, and continuously make in-game changes like we did, [it] showed continuous growth from this young group of guys. These young men have been working extremely hard to continuously improve.”

The Broncos — who played eight of their first 11 games on the road, including a 63-57 win in Courtland — used the home court to their advantage in the first half.

Both teams shot well, but the crowd’s noise helped Franklin fluster the Southampton offense at times.

“I knew, on one hand, we were a much better basketball team then we were when we met Dec. 5,” Franklin head coach Robby Cutchins said. “However, I knew they were a different team, as well, seeing that [Southampton star forward Darius] Bell didn’t play the first game due to an ankle injury. If you don’t take care of him and account for him on every shot, then second- and third-chance opportunities could hurt us.”

Bell, who was double-teamed for most of the contest, finished the game with 15 points, 21 rebounds, six assists and five blocks. He managed only a single basket in the opening half, but his unselfish play assists kept the visiting Indians within two at intermission, 31-29.

“We have to play better defensively, and we need to do better at feeding it into the post,” Southampton head coach Sharone Bailey said. “I mean, Darius is 6-foot-9 and we need to take advantage of that.”

All five of Bell’s first-half assists resulted in three pointers for the Indians, who shot five of 14 from behind the arc in the contest. Bailey lamented that the lack of production from the four other players on the court was the difference in the third quarter.

“It’s kind of the reason we didn’t win the game,” he said.

Bell scored all 12 of Southampton’s points during the aforementioned run. But as Franklin ratcheted up the defensive pressure on the Indians’ guards, turnovers led to easy fast-break points at the other end.

“The bottom line is, when you are undersized, you have to outwork your opponent in every phase possible, and I thought for the most part that we did that tonight,” Cutchins said. “I’ve touched on it before, but when you have a young man like Quayshawn at 5-foot-8 playing the forward position, there aren’t many nights that we aren’t undersized. Our big guy, freshman Drelyn Ford, at 6-foot-2 did a really good job at both ends of the floor controlling positions, as well.”

Bailey, meanwhile, mentioned his team’s abysmal free throw shooting as the difference in the game.

“Every year after Christmas, we seem to not play that well,” he said, offering the long break as a reason his team shot 11 of 23 from the charity stripe. “We lost, but we gave effort. We just need to try to keep clicking and do what we do.”

Franklin (6-6 on the season) plays host to Sussex Central this tonight, Jan. 15, while Southampton (5-7) travels to Windsor. The Tigers are 4-6 this year, while the Dukes have yet to win a game.