Broncos lose in final seconds of Franklin Holiday Classic

Published 11:36 am Saturday, January 6, 2024

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Local basketball fans were treated to two exciting, barn-burning nights of basketball between the Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays inside the Peggy H. Wilkins Gymnasium at Franklin High School. 

Franklin High’s annual Bluewater Rentals/Mid Atlantic Dairy Queen Holiday Classic varsity boys basketball tournament opened on Thursday night, Dec. 28, with Brunswick High School defeating Nandua High School 71-43. The nightcap featured the Broncos edging Lawrence Academy, of North Carolina, with a score of 51-47. 

Continuing Friday night, Dec. 29, with the consolation game, Lawrence Academy defeated Nandua with a score of 70-67. 

The championship game, for the second year in a row, featured the Franklin Broncos against the Brunswick Bulldogs. 

After the tipoff the Broncos easily took control and the lead with a 24-17 first quarter. By the half the Broncos still were holding the lead with a score of 43-32. 

After the break the Bulldogs came back with a big third quarter and outscored the Broncos 29-15 to take the lead at the end of the period by a score of 61-58. 

In the final quarter both teams battled hard; the score was tied, and the lead changed hands a few times. With 29.6 seconds remaining, the last tie came with a score of 77-77. Then Brunswick pulled ahead. The Broncos had a few opportunities to restore the tie in the final seconds but could not, and the final score came with the Bulldogs winning 79-77.

In comments after the game, Franklin Head Coach Robby Cutchins said, “Another great battle between two heavyweights. I think back over the last 5-6 years and there have been some great games between us and Brunswick. The last two years have carried it to an entirely different level.”

He noted that last season, the Broncos played the Bulldogs four times — twice during the standard regular season Tri-Rivers District schedule, once in the Holiday Classic title game and once in the district tournament championship game.

This season, the two teams had already faced each other once prior to Friday night, with Franklin narrowly defeating host Brunswick 60-58 in that meeting on Dec. 13.

“Tonight was a little higher scoring than we would like, but the boys battled and were up for the high-pace tempo,” Cutchins said Friday. “The biggest piece of the puzzle tonight for us was foul trouble. Our point guard and big man both got in foul trouble for us early in the first half, which ultimately changed the tempo of the game. With our point guard getting in foul trouble, they were able to apply some pressure, which changed the game to much more of a pace they wanted to play. 

“We shot the ball extremely well in the first half, hitting the most three-pointers we’ve hit all season in a half, with eight made three-pointers,” he continued. “I stressed to the boys at halftime two key factors, one being we can’t live off of the deep ball because I felt like it was a given we weren’t going to shoot that well two halves in a row. The second key factor they needed to keep in mind is these battles over the last couple of years between us and them have consisted of multiple runs by each team, and tonight was no different.”

Cutchins noted that Franklin’s big man, junior Kamarre Hicks, produced a standout performance on the offensive end with 17 points in 17 minutes, but he was limited to that playing time due to foul trouble, and he ultimately fouled out early in the fourth quarter.

“With Brunswick now being down in (Class 1), tonight’s game showcased two of the top five teams in the state at our level,” Cutchins said. “It gave the crowd yet another electric game between us. I have a lot of respect for Brunswick and their coaching staff over there, and I know there will be more great battles ahead, including this season. 

“I also want to personally thank my two main sponsors Bluewater Rentals and Mid Atlantic Dairy Queen,” he added.

The Broncos had four scorers in double figures. They were senior Chaevon Torrance with 22 points, Hicks with 17, senior Kaden Bailey with 12 points and junior Travis Mabry with 10 points. 

For the Bulldogs three scorers ended up in double figures. They included senior Ja’Malachi Pearson with 33 points, senior Ja’Marjae Barner with 19 points and senior Jamari Anderson with 13 points.

Franklin (7-3) returns to action Saturday, Jan. 6, when it visits Nansemond-Suffolk Academy at 3 p.m.