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Franklin County High claims region titles

FAYETTE — It was a banner night for Franklin County High School’s varsity basketball teams last Friday night in the boys’ and girls’ championship games of the MHSAA Region 7-3A Tournament at Jefferson County High School.

To no one’s surprise, the No. 1 seed Franklin County Lady Bulldogs, who ran the table during the regular season in region play, extended their winning streak to 12 in a row and showed why they could make a deep postseason run with a 56-34 win over the No. 2 seed Jefferson County Lady Tigers in the girls’ championship game.

Even though the final scored would indicate a blowout win for the Lady Bulldogs, the Lady Tigers kept the game very competitive for most of the first three quarters.

“It was close. We were only up four at halftime (26-22). It was close through three quarters,” Franklin County head coach Ricky O’Quinn said. “Actually, the last 2:04 of the third quarter we went on an 8-0 run. We outscored them 11-8 in the third quarter, but eight of those points came in the last two minutes. It carried on into the fourth quarter.”

When asked what sparked that run, O’Quinn said, “Our defense. We forced some turnovers and got some easy buckets. They kept us in the half court. We struggled (with it). We missed some easy shots. Then our defense got some steals and we made some easy shots.”

Ja’sharreah Hunt led the Lady Bulldogs (18-7) with a game-high 20 points while Jami Dawson and Andrea Stewart added 11 points apiece. Kedranna Ford led the Lady Tigers with 11 points and Akira Doss had nine points.

The most surprising outcome of the entire tournament occurred in the boys’ championship game as the Franklin County Bulldogs, the No. 3 seed, upset the No. 1 seed Port Gibson High School Blue Waves 56-51.

While it may have been a stunning win for most people watching, O’Quinn was not one of them.

“We split with them in the regular season. We beat them by 11 here and had a big lead on them there before they came back,” O’Quinn said.

Port Gibson jumped out to a 14-10 lead after one quarter of play and led Franklin County 28-25 at halftime. However, the Blue Waves were not able to put the game away in the third quarter as both teams scored 12 points to make it a 40-37 game.

The fourth quarter belonged to Franklin County. Led by Ma’kyilan Covington and Tony Norman, the Bulldogs outscored the Blue Waves 19-11 to win the tournament’s boys’ crown. Covington led all scorers with 22 points and Norman poured in 12 points.

“Defensively, in the fourth quarter, we held them (in check),” O’Quinn said. “Rebounding was the big key. We limited them to one shot. That was key for us.”

In the boys’ consolation game, the third-seeded Hazlehurst High School Indians held on for a 50-49 win over the upset-minded and fourth-seeded Wilkinson County High School Wildcats.

In the girls’ consolation game, the No. 3 seed Hazlehurst High School Lady Indians defeated the No. 4 seed Wilkinson County High School Lady Wildcats.

Two of the girls’ teams who advanced out of the Region 7-3A Tournament returned to action Monday night in the first round of the MHSAA Class 3A South State Playoffs while the other two will take the court tonight

Jefferson County hosted the Region 5 No. 3 seed Forest High School Lady Bearcats and Hazlehurst hit the road to DeKalb to take on the Region 5 No. 2 seed Kemper County High School Lady Wildcats.

Franklin County plays host to the Region 5 No. 4 seed Morton High School Lady Panthers today at 6 p.m. while Wilkinson County travels to Meridian to take on the Region 5 No. 1 seed Southeast Lauderdale today at 6 p.m. The Lady Tigers are on a seven-game winning streak after disposing of Kemper County 54-33 last Friday night in the Region 5-3A Tournament girls’ championship game.

As for the four teams in the Region 7-3A Tournament boys’ bracket who advanced, all of their Class 3A South State Playoffs first-round games will take place today with tip-offs of 7:30 p.m. — Region 5 No. 4 seed Morton at No. 1 seed Franklin County (12-13); Region 5 No. 3 seed Forest at No. 2 seed Port Gibson; No. 3 seed Hazlehurst at Region 5 No. 2 seed Kemper County; and No. 4 seed Wilkinson County at Region 5 No. 1 seed Southeast Lauderdale.