• Rick Capone, Sports Editor

Yellow Jackets rally to defeat Panthers in district game

Even with a very slow start, the Woodford County High School boys’ basketball team played strong defense all game long, and then rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Frankfort, 42-32, on the road Friday, Jan. 6, in an important district match-up. With the win, the Yellow Jackets are now 8-8 overall, 2-5 in the region and, most important, tied with the Panthers for first place in the 41st District with identical 2-1 records. “It’s a good win for us because Frankfort was in first place and that keeps us at the top, if not, at the top of the district,” said Woodford head coach Ryan Wilson. “I think it’s a confidence thing for us to say, ‘Hey, we came in here in a big district game on their floor, didn’t play anything even close to our best game, and were still able to pull the game out.’ So, if we give our best effort defensively, it doesn’t really matter what we do on offense because we can still find ways to win.” To say both teams started out the slow in the game would be an understatement. While Woodford had some good scores made by seniors Keagan Stromberg and Malik Richards, and sophomore Brandon Cromwell, Frankfort took an early lead and led at the end of the first quarter, 13-9. The offense in the second quarter didn’t get much better for either team. However, because Woodford’s defense was so strong, the game remained close and at the end of the first half, Frankfort led, 15-11. At halftime, Wilson encouraged his players about the importance of keeping up their strong defensive play. If they did that, he believed the offense would happen. “We talked about it at halftime, and it is something we’ve been preaching about all year long is that we can’t let our offense dictate what our defense is going to look like,” said Wilson. “Even in the first half, even though offensively we weren’t scoring, we still gave the defensive effort that we needed to be successful. “Then at halftime, we talked about the difference in this game is that we need to be able to come out and make some plays that don’t show up in the stat book, whether it’s a charge or a steal or something small that really gets us going. And, Malik (Richards) came in there at got a few deflections and some steals and you could see we took it up to the next level. Then it built us up on offense as well. So it was a big momentum (boost) for us and it was nice to see our seniors step up and make some plays like that for us.” Woodford took Wilson’s words to heart and as the third quarter opened, senior Trevor White scored on the team’s first two possessions on two great drives to tie the game, 15-15. Frankfort came back and scored two, but Woodford hit a three-pointer from the corner to take an 18-17 lead. The two teams swapped points the rest of the quarter, with Frankfort managing to get a couple more to take a 25-21 lead heading into the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter, Richards took over at the start and, while Frankfort did hit some baskets, the senior hit two three-pointers, and made two more baskets on strong drives to the basket to tie the game 31-31. Cromwell then hit two free throws, and added another two-point basket to give Woodford a 35-31 lead with under three minutes left in the game. That sequence of baskets between Richards and Cromwell seem to demoralize Frankfort, who would only score one more point on a free throw the rest of the game. Meanwhile. Cromwell went four-for-four on free throws, and White scored three-of-four free throws, which made it a 10-point lead for Woodford, who would win the game 42-32. Cromwell and Richards had 12 points each in the game, with Cromwell getting give rebounds. White had 11 points and four rebounds, while senior Alex Cason had a game high six rebounds. Next up, Woodford has two more important district games coming up, both on the road. On Friday, Jan. 13, they play at Franklin County, and then on Tuesday, Jan. 17, they are at Western Hills. Both games start at 8:15 p.m. following the girls’ games.

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