Franklin County girls not waiting for future

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 31, 2004

The 2003-04 Franklin County Lady Bulldogs seem a far cry from last year’s team that won only single digits in games.

Head coach Charles Moore’s bunch have already won eight games overall, and with Friday’s 71-35 drubbing of Jefferson County got to .500 in Region 7-3A play.

All of this success comes despite three sophomores being in the starting lineup &045; Shonique Gibbs, Victoria Hunt and Shalenia Wilcher.

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Hunt and Wilcher accounted for half of their team’s points on Friday, with the guard Hunt scoring a game-high 20 and post Wilcher 16.

&uot;I thought our effort last season was there; we were just learning how to play well together,&uot; Moore said. &uot;We’re very excited about the future with the youth that we have here. But we’re still trying to finish this season out strong.&uot;

The Lady Bulldogs are most dangerous when they push the ball up the floor.

On Friday, Lady Tiger head coach Flora McKnight instituted a full-court press from the opening tip; however, Franklin County ran through it like soup through a fork.

Ten of Hunt’s 20 came in the first quarter, mostly on layups in transition. Ashley Weathersby also had nine of her 14 points in the opening period, again out of fast-break opportunities.

MAKING LEMONADE &045; Jefferson County boys head coach Marcus Walton put on a brave face after Friday’s heartbreaker.

Positive thoughts and optimistic words are not necessarily easy to come by after an exhausting 61-57 double-overtime loss, but Walton knows all hope is not lost.

The Tigers remain atop the Region 7-3A standings at 6-1, a half game up on Amite County and a full game ahead of Wilkinson County, which hosts the Tigers on Tuesday.

&uot;You’re never ever pleased with a loss, but one thing these kids showed tonight was they all have big hearts,&uot; Walton said. That &uot;along with determination, that’ll make us go a long way. It says a lot for us to come down to Franklin County and take them into double overtime.&uot;

Still, Walton knows his Tigers had opportunities down the stretch to put some distance between themselves and Franklin County if the tenacity around the glass would have been stronger.

&uot;I think back to when they were about 57 seconds and Eddie (Davenport) stepped up and made both of those free throws,&uot; he said. &uot;I thought we had an opportunity for the win if we could have had a defensive stop. We gave up another offensive rebound. We should’ve had the ball game.&uot;

GUARD PLAY &045; Every team needs its heart to begin its steady beat with its point guard.

Both Franklin County and Jefferson County showed that type of dependency Friday on those individuals who set up the offense.

Bulldog guards Ronnie Williams and Deandrea Cameron, who scored 13 and 12, respectively, each played a significant role during the free basketball on Friday.

Williams hit a big 3-pointer during the first overtime and Cameron made three big free throws down the stretch to ensure Franklin County of the victory.

&uot;(Jefferson County has) got three of the best guards we’ve played against this season,&uot; Bulldogs head coach Chris Jordan said. &uot;Their guards are bigger and stronger than ours. Our guard play has got to get better. We were passing it off the back of people’s heads.&uot;

The Tigers senior point guard Joshfer Nichols, who has played so many roles for his team this season, was bottled up all night, not scoring his first point until the fourth period.

Nichols, who finished with five points, fouled out in the first overtime, but that did not prevent him from cheering from his knees on the sidelines.

&uot;Josh came out a little rattled,&uot; Walton said. &uot;He was trying to do too much. But he continues to show the same kind of determination night-in and night-out.&uot;

TALKING TOURNAMENT &045; It’s never too early to start talking district tournaments, and folks over at Adams Christian have a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen.

But to their disliking the District 2-AAA tournament will have a different format this year when it kicks off next month at Hillcrest Christian in Jackson. Unlike last year’s bracket that seeded all teams one through seven with the top seed getting a bye, this year’s bracket will separate teams into North and South divisions as in football with the No. 3 North facing the No. 1 South and so on.

The plan may not be official yet, AC boys head coach John Gray said, until a Feb. 6 meeting. He noted after Saturday’s win over Lamar he favors last year’s system, but regardless the Rebels have a shot at that overall No. 1 seed.

If not, the new bracket would put his Rebels at least the No. 2 seed from the South. But they could get the overall No. 1 with wins over Central Private and Jackson Prep. A win over Central Private would get them the No. 1 South seed.

&uot;The only way we can get to (No.) 1 is if we beat Central Private again,&uot; Gray said. &uot;They’ve got to beat us by more than one point, or we’ve got to beat some teams above us. It’s going down to the last game. That (Prep game) willl be a real big game as far as the overall (No.) 1. We could wind up (No.) 2 on our side or (No.) 1 overall. It’s up to those two games left &045; Prep and CP.&uot;

On the girls’ side, Saturday’s Lady Rebel loss to Lamar may not have had an effect on the seedings for the tournament. The loss dropped the Lady Rebels to 1-5 in 2-AAA amid powers Parklane and Central Private.

&uot;From what they showed me on the bracket, we’ll end up playing Copiah,&uot; AC head coach Bruce Pickle said.

DOWN IN 7-A &045; It’s a race on the girls’ side for the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 seeds behind Tensas Academy. Tuesday’s battle between Trinity Episcopal and Huntington will factor heavy in who gets the No. 2 seed, one that comes with a bye and automatic entry into the South State tournament.

The district tournament starts Feb. 2 at Amite School Center.

&uot;Right now I think we’re in third place,&uot; Huntington head coach Penny Moak said. &uot;It would be nice if we could beat Trinity, but it’ll take us beating them and somebody else. I think Trinity has to play WCCA again. If we beat Trinity, it depends on what happens between them and WCCA. The way we’re playing, we’ve got a shot at (a bye).&uot;

THOSE POST BLUES &045; There’s a reason why Ferriday girls’ head coach Lisa Abron is much more vocal during games. This year’s Lady Trojan squad is plenty younger &045; from four seniors a year ago to a sophomore carrying the label of team leader.

But it’s been back to the drawing board for the Lady Trojans’ inside game, which features two freshmen and a junior coming off the bench. Things got so bad this week that Crowville’s Keisha Jones tossed in 39 points Tuesday and Neville’s Anitra Robinson had 28 points Friday.

And another solid post player is coming up when the Lady Trojans face McCall’s Bettina Fountain.

&uot;My girls are young and don’t know how to play the post yet,&uot; Abron said. &uot;They just don’t understand. It’s something we’ll have to continue to work on until we get better. When I first talked about (Crowville) having a big girl, they kind of got wide-eyed. I think they were afraid and nervous.

&uot;We tried to front the big girl and have somebody behind her. They have a hard time getting in front of somebody &045; getting that leg in front of that post person. It’s frustrating, but I’m not giving up.&uot;

Democrat sports editor

Adam Daigle

contributed to this report.