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2021 KHSAA Girl’s Sweet 16 Day 1: Franklin County and Anderson County Are Moving On

(Photo courtesy of Les Nicholson)

(Photo courtesy of Les Nicholson)

Franklin County and Anderson County are moving on after two hard-fought competitions on Wednesday evening.

Franklin County 55, South Laurel 50 (OT)

On Wednesday afternoon, the Franklin County Flyers (18-5) defeated the South Laurel Cardinals (21-11) 55-50 in a barn burner. In the teams’ first matchup of the season, their futures were on the line… And they played like it.

From the first dribble, the game was intense. Throughout the first period, neither team could gain a substantial edge. Tennessee Lady Volunteer signee Brooklynn Miles struggled to get it going for Franklin County and finished the quarter 1/6 from the field.

In a turn of events, South Laurel’s Kylie Clem scored her season average of six points in the first eight minutes of the game. First-game jitters were certainly showing for both teams, but the dog fight was just beginning.

South Laurel struggled to find their rhythm offensively in the second quarter. During the early stretch of the second frame, South Laurel missed five shots in a row and worse, allowed Franklin County to go on a 9-0 run.

South Laurel did their best to battle back with guards Emily Cox and Brianna Howard nailing back-to-back threes, but Franklin County continued to extend their lead. Franklin County’s star, Miles, nailed a three at the buzzer to extend their lead to 33-24 heading into the break.

The game was competitive heading into the halftime intermission, but the teams had not played to their potential. Both sides were shooting 38% from the field and 50% or less from the free-throw line. Furthermore, neither of the team’s stars were necessarily playing their best.

South Laurel’s Rachel Presley only had one point due to foul trouble and Franklin County’s Miles struggled to consistently finish. In the first half, role players had stepped up on both teams, but for either team to pull away, stars were going to have to shine.

South Laurel came into the second half on fire. The team went on a 7-0 run in under two minutes to narrow Franklin County’s lead down to two points. The Cardinals’ explosion was fueled by Howard draining two shots from deep.

South Laurel may have been playing well, but Franklin County forward Patience Laster was playing better. Due to Presley being in foul trouble, Laster was able to dominate inside. The forward headed into the final period with 13 points and 12 boards. With eight minutes left to play, the Flyers led 44-39.

Once again, South Laurel came out of the break firing. Powered by their fans’ roars, the Cardinals opened up the final frame with a 5-0 run. South Laurel continued to chip away before taking their first lead 47-45 since five seconds left in the first period.

South Laurel may have taken the lead, but Franklin County wasn’t ready to give up that easily. Star guard Brooklynn Miles scored five straight points to even the score 50-50 with 12 seconds left in the game.

In a shocking twist, Franklin County accidentally fouled South Laurel with three seconds left to play, sending Brianna Howard to the line. The Flyers lucked out with a Howard miss and the two teams headed to overtime.

In the teams’ extra five minutes of play, Brooklynn Miles continued to show up. She scored four of her team’s five points in overtime and ultimately led Franklin County to a 55-50 victory.

(Photo courtesy of Les Nicholson)

“I thought our kids showed a lot of grit at the end,” Franklin County Head Coach Joey Thacker said about his team.

They certainly did. The Flyers’ comeback was just as stunning as the rest of the game. Miles recorded 17 points, five assists, and eight steals. In addition, Laster dropped a monstrous 14 points and 14 rebounds.

In all fairness, South Laurel’s performance was nothing to scoff at. The Cardinals were led by Reagan Jones with 14 points and 10 rebounds, but spread the scoring throughout the whole team. In fact, South Laurel had four players score eight or more points.

Franklin County will have a day to rest before taking on Anderson County. Franklin County’s next game is scheduled for Friday at 2 p.m. against the winner of the game below.


(Photo courtesy of Les Nicholson)

Anderson County 78, Southwestern 67

The Anderson County Bearcats (27-2) defeated the tenacious Southwestern Lady Warriors (20-4) 78-67 in a fast-paced war. The two teams never stopped running in what turned out to be a comfortable win for the Bearcats.

Early on, it appeared this might be another close contest. Southwestern and Anderson County battled back and forth for the majority of the first quarter, trading blows like two heavyweight contenders. The two teams certainly weren’t plagued by the Rupp Arena nerves.

Anderson County guard Tiffani Riley capped off the first period battle with a three at the buzzer to take the lead 14-13. The Bearcats’ offense had been great the first period, but in the second frame they decided to crank up their defense… This move proved to be extremely effective.

In just a minute and a half, Anderson County turned over Southwestern three times. As a result, they proceeded to go on a 9-0 run finished off by a Sophie Smith three.

As if one 9-0 run wasn’t enough, the Bearcats did it again in the same period, extending their lead to 33-19. In particular, Anderson County forward Amiya Jenkins was proving to be a thorn in the Lady Warriors’ side. It seemed as if Southwestern couldn’t execute a single offensive possession without Jenkins getting a hand on the ball.

After a smooth floater from Anderson County’s Smith, the Bearcats headed into the half with a commanding 37-23 lead. Southwestern was shooting well from the field, but failing in other aspects of the game. The Lady Warriors had failed to grab boards and take care of the ball. Consequently, they were paying the price.

Meanwhile, Anderson County had seemingly found their groove in the second period, outscoring Southwestern 23-10. Southwestern would need a different game plan if they wanted different second-half results.

(Photo courtesy of Les Nicholson)

Evidently, this wasn’t a secret to Southwestern. The Lady Warriors came out of the half firing. Their attempted comeback was jumpstarted by an Ayden Smiddy bucket from deep.

It didn’t stop there. Southwestern would go on to drain three more shots from range to cut Anderson County’s lead to 48-41 with three minutes left in the third period.

But despite Southwestern’s best efforts, Anderson County refused to give up the lead. After a few buckets from Smith, the Bearcats had increased their lead to 58-41 heading into the final frame of the contest.

Southwestern never gave up… Unfortunately for them, neither did the Bearcats. Southwestern began to foul early in the fourth period to attempt to mount a comeback, but their efforts were too little, too late. Anderson County defeated the Lady Warriors 78-67.

Southwestern was led by Alexa and Aydan Smiddy, each with 12 points. Nevertheless, their determination came up short against the superior Anderson County. The Bearcats were led by versatile guard Jenkins, who dropped an astounding 24 points and 11 rebounds.

As great as Jenkins was, she didn’t do it alone. In fact, Anderson County had four players with 14 points or more. All in all, the Bearcats controlled the game from start to finish.

Anderson County will take on Franklin County this Friday at 2 p.m. in the quarterfinal round.

Article written by Grant Grubbs