A frustrated, angry Franklin County girls' basketball team was probably the last thing Great Crossing needed to see rolling into town Friday night.
Beaten soundly and shockingly by Anderson County earlier in the week, the Flyers – regarded as perhaps the No. 1 team in Kentucky prior to the 32-point drubbing – had redemption in mind against the opponent considered their closest competition in the 41st District.
Franklin County scored 16 of the first 19 points in the game on the broad shoulders of its physical defensive pressure, and that allowed the Flyers to dictate the tempo in the half-court for the duration of a 67-52 victory.
"We didn't come out ready to play," GC coach Glenn Wilson said. "We just came out tentative. We didn't attack. Shots weren't falling, so we checked out."
Down by as many 15 points before Braylee McMath scored in the waning seconds of the first half, Great Crossing (3-1, 0-1) scratched within seven, 52-45, on Rachel Smith's 3-pointer with 4:45 to play.
Patience Laster's second-chance bucket launched a 10-3 run that put it away for Franklin County (4-1, 1-0). The six-foot junior furnished 16 points and 11 points for the Flyers, who defeated the Warhawks three times a year ago on the way to district and region titles.
"We made runs and had a chance to get back in the ballgame," Wilson said. "It got down to seven and then they had probably three offensive rebounds. That's one of the keys against them. You've got to block out."
Leshauvion Kennedy and Brooklyn Miles each added 13 points for Franklin County. Miles, the senior point guard signed with the University of Tennessee, also had five assists and four steals.
Smith topped the Warhawks with 14 points, including four 3-pointers.
It was a sluggish shooting night overall for GC, which went 6-for-23 from beyond the arc and 19-for-57 (33 percent) overall.
"A couple times we had unforced turnovers, and our shots weren't falling like they normally do," Wilson said. "It brings us down off our high horse. We've got to get back in and get to work."
The traditional one-two punch of McMath (12 points, five assists) and Timothi Williams (11 points, six rebounds) went a combined 8-of-27.
Miles' steal and layup started it out ominously for the Warhawks, who fell into a quick 6-0 hole before Williams' 3-point play.
Ten more points in a row followed from the Flyers, including a steal and behind-the-back pass from Miles to Kennedy for an easy deuce. Laster also provided a 3-point play during the run.'
"They've got two big ones inside," Wilson said of Laster and Jhaven Meade, who added 10 points and five rebounds. "It's tough to try to stop them, but you've gotta body up. We got complacent. They weren't calling fouls early. They were letting us beat up each other, so (Franklin County) adjusted to it and kept on playing."
Ava Schureman's corner three and Williams' work on the offensive glass ignited a 10-4 surge by GC, cutting the gap to 20-13 after eight minutes.
Miles and Kennedy canned consecutive threes to put the Flyers back in control. They led 35-22 at the half.
"They controlled the whole game, the whole tempo," Wilson said. "On offense, we did some things OK at times, but not consistently like we needed to. I thought we had our chances, but we've got to come out and play with a go-getter attitude with a chip on our shoulders."
Smith's eight points in the third period sliced it to 10 and gave GC a puncher's chance going into the fourth.
It was a measuring stick game for GC after high-octane home wins over Rowan County, Bryan Station and West Jessamine. Last year's margins of defeat against Franklin County were six, 12 and 16 points.
"Tonight was a night to test where we are, and we know we've got a lot more work to do," Wilson said. "It was a challenge today."