Broncos fall in 1B final, but earn state berth
Published 11:12 am Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Franklin High School’s top-seeded varsity boys basketball team produced a valiant rally late in the Region 1B Tournament championship game Friday, Feb. 24, but visiting No. 2 Altavista High School ultimately left with a six-point victory in a high-scoring contest that unfolded before a sold-out crowd.
A Franklin City Public Schools news release noted that the Broncos started the night off well and were encouragingly ahead 21-14 by the end of the first period. During the second quarter, though, the Colonels started making gains and went into halftime up 37-30.
The Altavista visitors kept the momentum going and held a 61-47 advantage by the close of the third period.
The fourth quarter is when the Broncos came back hard. The outlook was promising as they continued to narrow the gap, but the guests were able to stay ahead, finally winning 76-70.
Franklin Head Coach Robby Cutchins said afterward, “I tip my hat off to the Altavista Colonels. They’re a great team. There was a lot of resilience on the part of the Broncos, and they came back in the fourth.”
He acknowledged that too many fouls — 21 — “really, really hurt.” But, Cutchins added, “All in all, the Broncos did a pretty good job.”
Junior center Chaevon Torrance scored a total of 22 points for FHS. Senior forward Solomon Moody contributed 15 points, and junior shooting guard Kaden Bailey added 13.
The Broncos hold an overall record of 24-3.
STATE TOURNAMENT DETAILS
Franklin (24-3) and Altavista (20-4) will represent Region 1B in the Virginia High School League’s Class 1 State Tournament.
The Broncos will play in the state quarterfinals at New Kent High School on Friday, March 3, at 7 p.m. Their opponent will be Region 1A champion Lancaster High School, which holds an overall record of 26-0.
Franklin and Lancaster have had two common opponents this season, including Altavista, which the Red Devils defeated 81-66 on the road Jan. 14. The two teams also played Northampton High School, with the Broncos topping the Yellowjackets 70-68 at a neutral site Jan. 14 and the Red Devils defeating them 74-59 on the road Dec. 12 and 65-55 at home Jan. 3.
The state semifinals will be played March 6-7 at local sites to be determined. The state final will be played Thursday, March 9, at 2:30 p.m. at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Stuart C. Siegel Center in Richmond.
WINNING THE REGIONAL SEMIFINAL
In order to reach Friday’s regional title game and clinch a state tourney berth, Franklin first had to get through visiting No. 4 Buffalo Gap High School in the semifinals Wednesday, Feb. 22. The Broncos had earned a bye in the quarterfinal round, so this was their first regional action this season.
Playing to a full house, FHS scored quickly to take an early lead, but the Bison ensured it would not be an easy win. They played hard and often narrowed the point gap, especially in the first half.
After halftime, though, the home team worked more aggressively to gain the lead, usually staying 10 to 15 points ahead en route to a 57-42 victory.
Shortly after the game, Cutchins stated that his team gave a phenomenal effort defensively against a well-balanced Buffalo Gap team.
“They are a very disciplined team at both ends of the floor, but they move the ball on the offensive end of the floor as good or better than anybody we have seen all year,” he said. “We worked on taking away their strengths offensively, which we knew were in the middle of their
half-court offensive sets, because everything went through the middle. This opened up their shooters on the outside and allowed them to go inside to their big man.
“We took a team that was averaging 54 points on the season and held them to 11 first-half points,” he continued. “They did a good job in the third quarter to create some things offensively, but the boys continued to fight defensively and created more turnovers.”
He noted that the Broncos caused the Bison to turn the ball over 18 times during the course of the game, which was uncharacteristic of Buffalo Gap this season due to its strength on offense.
“So again I credit the boys for sticking to the game plan defensively and ultimately creating turnovers that led to a couple of fast-break buckets for us,” Cutchins said. “Kaden really set the tone up top for us with defensive intensity. The rebounding edge is something we have hung our hat on all season as well, and I see we won that battle tonight as well, 36-27, against a very long squad.”
Torrance grabbed 11 rebounds and recorded five blocks to go along with his team-high 19 points.
Bailey had five steals and five deflections.
Senior point guard Derrick Perry contributed 14 points, and senior wing Jordan Myrick had 11.
“This was a big win for us against a really quality squad and earned us a trip back to the state tournament for the first time in 14 years,” Cutchins said.