Franklin holds on for South State title

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

MEADVILLE &045; Even with a 20-point lead, Franklin County head coach Chris Jordan had a feeling that Choctaw Central would somehow get back in the game.

And that’s exactly what happened as the Warriors rallied and took a three-point lead late before the Bulldogs hit key free throws and Marcus Tillman’s rebound and putback with 15 seconds left gave them a 60-59 win Saturday night and the MHSAA Class 3A South State Championship.

&uot;It was crunch time,&uot; Tillman said. &uot;We needed those points. No one blocked me out. I went up there strong. The reason we got down was because we made 2s and they were hitting 3s.&uot;

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Tillman led the Bulldogs with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

&uot;It feels great because we just lost the football title and to come back and win in the gym, we couldn’t lose two here,&uot; Tillman said.

&uot;I’m proud of them. They worked awful hard,&uot; Jordan said.

After a slow start, Franklin County (23-7) Tillman and Deandre Davis got going later in the first quarter and a three by Deandre Cameron helped the Bulldogs take a 17-6 lead at the end of the quarter. Davis had 13 points and seven rebounds.

The Bulldogs continued to keep the pressure on Choctaw Central (21-13) and took a 34-14 lead near the midway point of the second quarter.

But just when it appeared the Bulldogs were ready to put the game away, the Warriors turned to Jaric Anderson and Wesley King to get them back in it. Anderson hit three free throws and King connected on three 3s, including one off glass at the end of the first half, to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 42-26 at halftime.

Even though Anderson made only two three-pointers, he led the Warriors with a game-high 21 points. King connected on five 3s and had 17 points.

&uot;I told them they would get on fire,&uot; Jordan said. &uot;I knew they would make a run. We knew 20 points was not enough.&uot;

Jonathan Brooks made sure the Warriors wouldn’t cut into the lead too much in the second quarter with a pair of key 3s. Brooks finished with 15 points before fouling out late in the game.

&uot;The kind of zone they played, I couldn’t get any open looks,&uot; Brooks said. &uot;I worry more about defense than scoring. They’ve got a lot of heart. I give them a lot of credit for not giving up.&uot;

The Warriors went to a half-court trap defense that caused the Bulldogs to turn the ball over numerous times in the third quarter, which led to some easy baskets. Choctaw Central outscored Franklin County 15-7 in that quarter to cut the lead to eight going into the fourth quarter.

&uot;We had trouble attacking it (half-court trap) and I blame myself,&uot; Jordan said. &uot;We missed some layups and had some turnovers.&uot;

The Warriors eventually took a 56-55 lead with 2:15 to go and then led 59-56 with just over a minute remaining on a three-pointer by Brandon Anderson before Cameron and Davis each made crucial buckets that eventually set up the game-winning shot by Tillman.

&uot;We’ve got to give credit to those guys,&uot; Warriors head coach Scott Thomas said. &uot;We could’ve folded it up. But they didn’t. They showed a lot of character. We could’ve won the game, but things just didn’t go our way.&uot;