Franklin County to play for South State title

Published 12:40 am Monday, February 22, 2010

MEADVILLE — In the litany of sports clichés, one of the tried and true ones says “To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.”

Well, tonight, the Franklin County Lady Bulldogs will put that cliché to the test when they take on the Choctaw Central Lady Warriors for the MHSAA Class 3A South State championship.

Choctaw Central is one of the most decorated girls basketball teams in Mississippi, having claimed numerous state championships throughout the years.

Franklin County, meanwhile, wants to get to that level.

“(Choctaw Central) has quite a few state championship banners hanging in their gym,” Franklin County coach Charles Moore said. “You want to play teams with tradition so you can match up with them and see how far you have come as a program.”

The Lady Bulldogs will host the game, which will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Franklin County advanced to the championship game by defeating Heidelberg 59-44 while Choctaw Central blasted Sumrall 81-55 in its semifinal game.

Franklin County is led by the inside duo of Ventrice Briggs and Cee Cee Miller. Both have played spectacularly in the South State tournament, with Briggs scoring 33 points in the Lady Bulldogs’ quarterfinal win over Southeast Lauderdale and Miller scoring 28 points in their semifinal win over Heidelberg.

“(Inside) is where we start,” Moore said. “We try to work our way inside ouy.”

And now that Briggs has improved her play over the course of the season, the Lady Bulldogs are even more dangerous.

“I think Ventrice has definitely come on,” Moore said. “She’s getting the same shots she’s been getting all year, but she has developed much better touch as the season has gone along. Cee Cee has had the touch all year long, but Ventrice has stepped up to almost match Cee Cee in her ability.”

But Franklin County is much more than just its two post players, Moore said.

“This team compares to the team that we had in 2008 that played for the state championship,” Moore said. “We are pretty balanced. We handle the ball better than the 2008 team. We’ve got strength inside, good shooting and good ball handlers. And our bench is much deeper. We go about nine (players) deep.”

The Lady Bulldogs have already clinched a spot in the State Tournament in Jackson later this week, but Moore said they would love nothing better than to win the South State championship in front of the home crowd.

“It takes a little pressure off, knowing you’re going to Jackson,” Moore said. “But just the competitive nature of the athletes, you want to win in your own gym.”

And Moore expects to see the same enthusiastic crowd tonight that has supported the Lady Bulldogs the entire tournament.

“Our fans have been tremendous this year supporting us,” Moore said. “The crowds have been great during the district tournament last week and South State this week. I can’t say enough about them. They’ve been out in full force.”