• Rick Capone, Sports Editor

Print all In new window Yellow Jackets lose to the Flyers in district road game

NICHOLAS SMITH goes for a layup during the Woodford County High School boys’ basketball game against district rival, Franklin County, on Friday, Jan. 13, in Frankfort. While it was a close game all the way to the end, the Flyers got the win, 48-45. (Photo by Rick Capone)

In an important district matchup against Franklin County in Frankfort on Friday, Jan. 13, the Woodford County High School boys’ basketball team led for a good part of the game, but in the end, the Flyers took control late in the fourth quarter and went on to win 48-45. Then on Tuesday, Jan. 17, Woodford went on the road again to face another district opponent, Western Hills. There, in an impressive performance, the Yellow Jackets defeated the Flyers, 61-39. With the loss, Woodford is now 9-10 overall, 3-7 in the region and 3-2 in the district. In a way, Woodford’s game against Franklin County was an exact reversal from the result the first time the two teams played this season on Dec. 9. In that game, the Flyers had the lead most of the game, but then Woodford came back late in the fourth quarter to get a 47-44 win. “You can throw records out the door (when Woodford plays Franklin County),” said Woodford head coach Ryan Wilson. “(With this) rivalry, it’s always going to be a tough, physical, close game. “I think both times (we’ve played them) it’s been (close to) the same score, just kind of flip-flopped (each time). But, I remember the first time we played (them this year), we were kind of in a little bit of a slump. It was game that we came back and really started to play tough; really started to play a physical game. “I think we did it again on Friday night. It’s just we weren’t able to make the same plays we did last time; we weren’t able to make those plays on Friday night. But, our goal, we talked about it, is we need to win the games we’ve got to win to make sure that we get another opportunity to play them again, and we’re looking forward to it.” If the two teams do meet again this year it will be in the 41st District tournament in February. In Friday’s game, the two teams kept things close in the first quarter from start to finish. Franklin County opened up a quick 4-0 lead, before senior Trevor White hit two three-pointers in a row to give Woodford a 6-4 lead. After that, for every basket Franklin County made, Woodford responded, as senior Keagan Stromberg hit a layup and senior Malik Richards nailed a short pull-up jumper. However, Franklin County made one extra basket to tie the game, 10-10. The Flyers followed that with another two-pointer, but Richards came right back down the floor and drove to the basket for two to tie it again, 12-12. As time was running down, Franklin County scored once more, while sophomore Corey George hit two free throws, and as time ran out on the quarter, the score was tied once again, 14-14. The second quarter opened with Stromberg making a steal and sinking a basket to give Woodford a 16-14 lead, but Franklin County responded to tie it at 16-16. A couple more baskets by the Yellow Jackets, and then White hitting one of two free throws, gave Woodford a 21-16 lead, which forced Franklin County to call a time out to regroup. Right out of the time out, Richards stole the ball and scored wo points, followed on the next possession with White driving the baseline for two more points and the Yellow Jackets led 25-16. Franklin County finally hit a basket to make it 25-18, and then both teams hit two baskets each to close out the first half with Woodford ahead at 29-22. Franklin County got on the board first in the third quarter with a three-pointer, followed by a two-pointer to make it a 29-27 ball game. Then, after a 30 second time out by the Yellow Jackets, sophomore Brandon Cromwell answered with a three-pointer to give Woodford a 32-27 lead. The Flyers made it a one-point game, 32-31, on two free throws and a two-pointer off an inbounds play, then followed that with a three-pointer to take a two-point lead, 34-32. Woodford tried to fight back, but the quarter ended with two more baskets by Franklin County, who took a four-point lead, 38-34, into the fourth quarter. The final stanza opened with senior Alex Cason driving to the basket for two points to make it a 38-36 game. Following a Flyers’ time out, Stromberg drove hard to the basket for two more points to tie the game at 38-38. Cromwell then gave the Yellow Jackets the lead, 40-38, on two free throws, but the Flyers came right back and tied it, 40-40. Following a time out by Woodford, Franklin County made a steal and took it to the basket for a two-point lead, 42-40. After that, while the game remained close, with only one or two points separating the two teams the rest of the way, the Flyers held onto the lead. With Franklin County ahead 45-42, Stromberg hit a turnaround jump shot in the lane to make it a one-point game, 45-44. Then, following a Woodford time out, Richards tried to foul a Franklin County player to force them to the line with 32.6 seconds left in the game. It is a standard play, common in almost every game of basketball. Unfortunately, Richards’s arm got tangled up with the Franklin County players arm, which made the player fall. The referee, on a very questionable call, signaled for a flagrant foul. Then, to make matters worse, Wilson protested that call and got called for a technical. Four shots later, Franklin County led 48-44 and, except for one more Woodford free throw, the game was over, 48-45. “They called the flagrant foul, and at that point in time, Malik (Richards) was called for the intentional foul,” said Wilson. “I thought Malik did exactly what I asked him to do. I didn’t think it was right that the officials made that call given the circumstances. (However), I should have done a better job of keeping my cool, but at the same time I don’t think the technical was warranted. I didn’t say anything to offend anybody. But, it was what it was.” Ultimately, though, Woodford had its chances in the game and they were not able to get the job done this time around. “We had opportunities in the game to win or push the lead out in the second and third quarters,” said Wilson. “But we put ourselves in that position. We’re going to learn from it and, hopefully, next time we don’t have to worry about going through that again.” While it was a tough loss, it was still a good game of basketball between two of the top teams in the district. All in all, Wilson was pleased with his players’ performance. “I think Friday night was probably the most balanced we have been,” said Wilson. “I think that first half was probably, overall, the toughest we have played. You know, there were a few balls that they had their hands on and we just went in there, stuck our nose in there and, literally, took it right from them. We were the first to the floor on a lot of loose balls; you know, those 50-50 balls, they were all ours. “In the second half, I don’t know if they (the Yellow Jackets) were content, or our guys got timid or what. … But, collectively, as a group, that was probably our best game as a unit.”

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