Franklin County dumps THS, lands in South State final today

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

MEADVILLE &045; Jasper O’Quinn came through again for Franklin County.

The hero of more than a few Bulldog victories during the football team’s run to the state semifinals last fall showed what he can do on the basketball court Friday night.

With the Tylertown defense slumping off him, he drove to the hoop and got some layups and nine points but, more importantly, got his teammates involved with his passes.

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His work was crucial as Franklin County (22-7) beat Tylertown (25-6) 69-48 in the semifinal round of the MHSAA South State Tournament in Meadville.

The Bulldogs will face Choctaw Central in the championship at 7:30 p.m. today.

&uot;(Jasper’s) not a good outside shooter but he’s the best at penetration and kicking the ball out,&uot; Franklin County head coach Chris Jordan said. &uot;He’s just a winner, a real tough kid.&uot;

The game was back and forth in the early going as the Bulldogs felt out the Tylertown defense, which started in an rarely seen triangle and two alignment.

With O’Quinn setting up his teammates, the Bulldogs exploded for an 18-6 second quarter run that opened up the game for good. Forward Marcus Tillman got a couple rebounds for offensive putbacks and the Franklin guards hit three 3-pointers to help the Bulldogs get a 29-17 lead at halftime.

Franklin County opened the third quarter with more of the same, stretching its lead to 40-17 before the Chiefs scored again. The Bulldogs never led by fewer than 16 points in the second half.

Tylertown’s offense came alive in the fourth quarter, scoring 22 points and almost matching the 26 they had scored in the first three quarters. But Franklin County kept pace, hitting 15 of 21 free throws in the final minutes to seal the win.

The Chiefs struggled on offense for the first three quarters of the game, scoring just 26 points over that stretch. Tylertown assistant coach Laverne Lee blamed much of that on the Chiefs’ inability to get rebounds on both ends of the floor.

&uot;We played a pretty good team and we didn’t block out and didn’t score,&uot; Lee said. &uot;They shot the ball well on us, and 14, O’Quinn, got some penetration on us.&uot;

Jonathan Brooks was one of the big beneficiaries of O’Quinn’s strong play. Brooks scored a game-high 21 points, including five 3-pointers.

Brooks started in place of Wesley Brown, who played briefly but has been slowed considerably by injuries to his legs. Brooks more than made up for his absence, helping O’Quinn and Deandre Cameron beat some full-court pressure from the Chiefs and adding some scoring punch from the outside.

&uot;They knew Jasper wouldn’t shoot, so they laid back. He penetrated to get us some wide open 3s,&uot; Brooks said. &uot;I just came today more prepared, more ready to hit some shots.&uot;

The Bulldogs also got another solid game from posts Tillman and Deandre Davis, who had 16 and nine points respectively and did a good job controlling the glass. Lee said his team’s plan going into the game was to try to stop Franklin’s post presence.

&uot;We were trying to double down on the posts with our guards, but O’Quinn’s drives got them some big shots,&uot; Lee said.

Tylertown was led by Travis Conerly’s 20 points. Revas Jackson was the only other Chief in double figures with 10.

The Bulldogs are a win away from taking the South State title and wrapped up a spot in next week’s state tournament with the win.

Jordan and the Bulldogs hung around to watch the late game between Choctaw Central and Forest. Choctaw Central won 64-53 in that game.

&uot;Both of them are pretty good,&uot; Jordan said.