Broncos fight back to win Tri-Rivers District Tournament

Published 5:47 pm Friday, February 17, 2023

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Many people are familiar with the phrase, “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.” She was cranking up Saturday, Feb. 11, in the Peggy H. Wilkins Gymnasium at Franklin High School, and when the time for her solo finally arrived, the Franklin varsity boys basketball team laid hold of the district tourney crown. 

It didn’t look good early on for the Broncos as they played the Brunswick High School Bulldogs in the championship game of the Tri-Rivers District Tournament. 

The contest was fast and physical, as the Bulldogs gained a 12-2 lead in the first quarter against the home team. By halftime, the Bulldogs remained in the driver’s seat with a 26-18 lead. 

In the third quarter, it looked worse for Franklin, as the Bulldogs seemed headed for a big win, building a 43-26 lead. 

But not throwing in the towel, the Broncos continued to fight, chipping away at the Bulldog advantage. 

With 5:24 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Broncos trailed 46-31. By 4:28 they had made it a 10-point game, 46-36. By 3:51 the score was at 46-41.

A free throw by Franklin junior center Chaevon Torrance tied the game, and a free throw by senior wing Jordan Myrick put the home team ahead with 4.5 seconds remaining, leading to an epic 59-52 championship triumph for the Broncos. 

Franklin outscored the Bulldogs 33-9 in the final quarter.

Torrance was 9-for-10 from the free-throw line, and Myrick was 3-for-4 from the line in the fourth quarter. 

The Broncos had three players in double figures. Torrance finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks; junior shooting guard Kaden Bailey had 15 points and five steals; and Myrick contributed 11 points. 

For the Bulldogs, four players were in double figures. Jamalachi Pearson and Jayshaun Jones scored 11 points apiece, and Jamarjae Bonner and Jamari Anderson each scored 10 points. 

“Wow! Just wow!” Broncos Head Coach Robby Cutchins said, reacting to his team’s performance after the game. “I think the last seven minutes of this game shows the resiliency this team has.”

He then showed respect for the Bulldogs, who defeated Franklin in its holiday classic but fell to the Broncos in the two regular-season games that counted toward their district win-loss records.

“Let’s tip our hat to Brunswick, who is a really good squad,” he said. “It’s hard to beat a team three times in the same season, much less a team as good as they are. They dominated for three quarters and then hit a three ball to open the fourth quarter to put us in a 20-point hole.

“But we never quit, we just kept fighting,” he continued. “We applied a lot of on-ball pressure in the final frame and caused some turnovers that led to some fastbreak buckets to get a little momentum on our side.”

The coach took a moment to highlight some of his team’s individual standouts.

“Kaden Bailey was huge on the defensive end to give us that spark by causing some turnovers,” he said. “Chaevon Torrance showed once again tonight what he is capable of doing and why he is one of the best players in the district. He had a couple of huge blocks in the last two minutes of the game. Not to mention 15 of his 25 (points) came in the final frame.”

Franklin, which improved to 23-2 overall, ruled the Tri-Rivers District this season.

“I am just so proud of all of the boys and the coaching staff for pulling off a remarkable run in the district, going 14-0 during the regular season, winning the regular season title, along with winning the district tournament,” Cutchins said. “We will enjoy this one for a few days, then turn our attention to the next chapter, and that is the regional tournament.”

The Broncos have earned the No. 1 seed in the Region 1B Tournament, giving them a bye in the quarterfinals. They will play in the semifinals Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 6 p.m. against the winner of the quarterfinal game between No. 4 Buffalo Gap High School and No. 5 William Campbell High School.