He'll be back

Michael McKenzie (flu) was a key missing piece for Great Crossing in a Tuesday loss at Frankfort.

The bad news is that Great Crossing boys’ basketball saw its bid for an undefeated District 41 regular season go by the boards Tuesday night in an 82-76 loss to Frankfort at Wilkerson Gym.

Also unsettling is the possibility that the two teams could meet on a neutral court in a No. 1 vs. No. 4 semifinal contest two weeks from now.

Here’s the optimistic side: It took a likely career night from Chaz Austin, including a pair of first-half buzzer beaters, for Frankfort (14-14, 3-4) to spring the upset.

Also, Great Crossing (13-14, 6-1) played the game without senior guard and second-leading scorer Michael McKenzie, sidelined by flu symptoms.

Frankfort, a Region 11 semifinalist last season and playing inspired ball since its run to the All ‘A’ championship game in January, held off a furious GC rally to avenge a 76-53 loss in the teams’ previous meeting Jan. 7.

K.J. Tucker scored 21 points to lead GC, which already had clinched the top seed in the district tournament. The Warhawks await the outcome of a Saturday coin flip between Frankfort and Western Hills to learn their playoff opponent.

Jaylen Barber added 18 points and 11 rebounds for Great Crossing. Neil Baker produced 17 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

Perhaps the player of the night: Tim Fuller, a touted freshman who scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter as Great Crossing sliced what was once a 14-point deficit to one with two minutes left.

None of it was enough to overcome Austin, who racked up 25 of his game-high 34 in the first half.

Austin’s first bomb, a 25-footer, got in ahead of the first-quarter horn to give Frankfort a 20-18 lead.

After riddling GC’s interior defense with a symphony of spin moves of the second period, Austin buried a running prayer from a step beyond the half court stripe to close the half and make it a 45-33 margin. Jackson Twombly (15 points), Will O’Bryan (13) and Jordan Blythe (11) assisted Austin to propel the Panthers.

Frankfort sank eight of its final nine free throws after a Barber basket cut the deficit to 70-69.

Kal Oakes can be reached via email at sports@news-graphic.com.

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