• Bill Caine, Woodford Sun Sports

WCHS boys’ basketball beats ,Franklin County 55-54

SENIOR NICK SMITH drives to the basket in the Jackets’ win over Franklin County on Dec. 8. (Photo by Bill Caine)

The Woodford County High School boys’ basketball team beat Franklin County 55-54 in a thriller played at the “Hive.”

The Jackets improved to 5-0 with the win and 2-0 in district play. The atmosphere was fantastic with a large crowd and the WCHS band playing during timeouts and halftime. The game was back and forth for the entire 32 minutes and came down to a last second shot by the Flyers that missed and gave the Jackets the win.

“We were lucky tonight,” said Coach Ryan Wilson. “ It's hard to fathom that we came into a game like this and not be ready. But give Franklin County a lot of credit, they played us well. We took some good points out of tonight though, we had our worst effort this season and still found a way to win. I think when we watch the film of the game, we will become sick to ourselves but we will take a win any day of the week.”

The Flyers won the opening tip and turned the ball over to the Jackets. Corey George made a tough jump shot at the foul line with two hands in his face to give the Jackets an early 2-0 lead. The Flyers played smart defense early on drawing a pair of charging calls against the Jackets in the first two minutes. The Flyers created open looks on the outside by penetrating the middle of the court and passing to the wing. After a pair of three-pointers by the Flyers, the Jackets came back with a three by Ryan Duke and a tough offensive rebound and put back by Hunter Penn. The Flyers led 14-11 at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter was dominated by the rebounding of the Flyers. Woodford was unable to create the second chance points that they have created so far this season and had to regroup. The Jackets were cold from the three-point line to start the quarter until Duke swished a long three-pointer to bring the Jackets to within seven points. After a pair of George Free throws, Anthony Tabor scored on a layup to cut the lead to three points at halftime.

The Jackets started the third quarter rebounding the ball more aggressively. Brandon Cromwell grabbed an offensive rebound off of a Nick Smith miss and passed to Tabor who scored on a layup and was fouled. Both teams were playing physical basketball and most of the fouls were in mid air causing big collisions and hard falls to the floor. Tabor was fouled shooting a three-point shot and was sent falling backwards into the Jacket bench. Tabor made two of three free throws. The next time down the floor, Smith forced a jump ball call grabbing ahold of the ball after a Flyer rebound and gave possession back to the Jackets. The Flyers made an 8-0 run to end the third though, and led 43-39 at the end of the third quarter.

“I love the energy that we came out with to start the second half,” said Dylan Blevins. “Our coaches told us that we needed to get our mind right and to box out more and control the rebounding in the second half. We were able to do that and it was the difference in the game.”

Both teams exchanged three-pointers to start the fourth quarter. The Jackets started to drive to the basket and were getting to the line and making free throws. After four straight free throws, the Jackets had tied the game . Tabor and Smith continued to be aggressive in their pursuit of the basket and scored . Smith scored on a layup and was fouled with 53 seconds left to tie the game. The made free throw gave the Jackets the lead and Franklin County called timeout. After the Flyers missed a shot, Tabor was fouled and made both shots at the line. Jared Courtney drove to the basket for the Flyers and scored while being fouled. Courtney missed the free throw and the Jackets held on for the win.

“We talked at halftime about hard effort and what it would take to win this game,” said Penn. “It was great to see everyone here tonight and to be able to win a district game in front of our home crowd feels great.”

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