Franklin boys off to 6-1 start

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, December 20, 2023

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By Frank A. Davis and Titus Mohler

The Franklin High School varsity boys basketball team took the lead immediately after tipoff Friday, Dec. 15, and held onto it to earn an easy 80-33 win over visiting Windsor High School.

The victory pushed the Broncos’ overall record this season to 6-1, which includes a clutch road win over Brunswick High School, a squad that, along with Franklin, is one of the top-ranked teams in the state at the Virginia High School League Class 1 level, according to Virginia Preps.

With his team holding a big lead early in the first quarter Friday against Windsor, Broncos Head Coach Robby Cutchins pulled his starting five, and they were still ahead 17-8 at the end of the period. 

In the second quarter the starting lineup returned and cranked out 30 points while holding the Dukes to 10. 

At the conclusion of the game, senior Chaevon Torrance was the only Franklin scorer in double figures, finishing with 27 points. The Dukes, too, had only one player in double figures — junior Jaylin McClenny, with 16 points.

Cutchins said the Broncos produced “an overall great team effort across the board.”

He said Windsor has a couple of big guys that “really get after it hard.” 

“But we came out and did what we had to do,” he said. “We had a huge win on Wednesday night against the No. 5 team in the state, the Brunswick Bulldogs, and we were battle-tested there big time.”

He noted that against the Bulldogs, “we were down 16 in the first half, 15 in the third quarter and came back and won by two points. So, we were kinda running on ‘E,’ but we knew tonight (against Windsor) that we needed a total team effort from the top to bottom, and we got it. We were able to get some of the guys off the bench to play some big minutes for us, and we had balance going across the boards. I am really so proud of these guys.”

In a separate interview, Cutchins went into greater detail about Franklin’s 60-58 come-from-behind road win over Brunswick on Wednesday, Dec. 13.

“The deciding factor was there was simply no quit with these boys,” he said of his players, who comprise the No. 3 VHSL Class 1 team in the state, according to Virginia Preps. “We got punched in the mouth numerous times from so many different angles early in the game against Brunswick. 

“We came out cold, and they came out on fire, building a 21-5 first-quarter lead,” he continued. “Although we couldn’t really get anything going offensively in the second quarter, we did a phenomenal job on the defensive side of things, holding Brunwick to just four second-quarter points after a track meet of an offensive performance from them in the first quarter.” 

He noted that the second half featured runs by both teams.

“After we were able to get (the Bulldogs’ lead) to single digits, Brunswick quickly got the game back to 15 with 1:30 left to play in the third quarter, but we scored the final five points of the quarter to get it back to 10 going into the fourth quarter,” he said. “With some halftime adjustments we were in much better position defensively to slow their roll into the fourth quarter, outscoring them 23-11 in the final frame.

“We were led by some huge defensive plays from Kaden Bailey, which led to some transitional buckets for us,” he added. “Then Chaevon Torrance took over offensively, scoring 17 of his 25 in the second half.”

Torrance also grabbed 14 rebounds for the game to go along with his 25 points, while Bailey finished with 14 points, four steals and eight deflections.

Franklin’s lone loss thus far this season came 54-52 to host Greensville County High School on Dec. 8. The Eagles are a VHSL Class 2 team that is a fellow member of the Tri-Rivers District with the Broncos, Bulldogs and Dukes, among others.

Cutchins gave high praise to Greensville and its effort that was on display in its win.

“They really did a good job from start to finish dictating the energy level,” he said. “They built a big first-half lead as well, having a 14-point spread on us at one point in the first half.”

He said Franklin did a good job getting back into the game on a night in which it did not shoot the ball extremely well.

“Our defense allowed us to get back into that game and still have a chance to win it, with the ball and a tied game at 52 with 16 seconds left,” he said. “However, a turnover inside of 10 seconds left and a foul on a bang-bang play with 2 seconds left at the rim gave the Eagles an opportunity at two free throws, and they made both of them.”

The Broncos’ three-point attempt at the buzzer was no good.

Torrance ended up with a game-high 21 points.

“This loss to Greensville was our first district loss in two seasons after the miraculous undefeated Tri-Rivers District run of the 2022-23 season,” Cutchins said.

Franklin (6-1, 4-1 Tri-Rivers) will face Lafayette High School in a holiday classic Friday, Dec. 22, at Walsingham Academy. 

Then the Broncos return home to host the Bluewater Rentals/Mid Atlantic Dairy Queen Holiday

Classic on Thursday, Dec. 28, and Friday, Dec. 29.