It is tough enough for Great Crossing and other 41st District opponents to come up with an answer for Brooklyn Miles, a 2,000-point scorer at Franklin County and bound for the University of Tennessee.
When Miles can draw a crowd and dump the ball inside to the Flyers’ low-post tandem of Jhaven Meade and Patience Laster, the night is bound to get longer.
Great Crossing never let it get out of hand, but Franklin County continued its control over both the Warhawks and the 41st District in Friday night’s championship game. The Flyers won their eighth consecutive title and have now enjoyed the upper hand in all five of their meetings with the Warhawks after a 62-51 verdict at Lapsley Cardwell Gymnasium.
Meade, a sophomore, finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Miles steered the ship with 18 points and four assists for Franklin County, which owns 61 consecutive district wins since losing to Frankfort in the 2013 final.
Shauvi Kennedy (11 points) and Laster (eight) provided balance for the Flyers, who shot 52.5 percent on the night.
Timothi Williams led Great Crossing (11-7) with 15 points, four assists and a pair of steals. Raegan Barrett added 11 points and nine rebounds. Rachel Smith notched nine points and Hailey Ward six, all on 3-pointers. Ava Schureman combined seven points and seven rebounds.
Franklin County did a number defensively on GC senior point guard Braylee McMath, limiting her to four points on 0-for-7 shooting. McMath produced five boards and three steals.
The Flyers never trailed, nor did they allow a seven-point lead to shrink any smaller than that in the second half. Almost every Warhawk threat down the stretch was met by a Miles drive or a lob inside to Meade or Laster.
Meade went 8-for-10 from the field. She opened the third quarter with a 3-point play and scored down low twice to start the fourth to anchor the Flyers’ gradual getaway.
Raegan Barrett scored six early points to keep GC within one, 12-11, at the 3:10 mark of the opening quarter.
The sophomore center’s first basket knotted the game at two, the only tie of the evening. Her put-back capped a 7-1 run in response to Miles’ consecutive 3-pointers, making it a one-point game. Smith also drained a three and Williams knocked down a 15-footer in that sequence.
Great Crossing turned it over twice with an opportunity to claim the lead. After a drought of 3:26 without a field goal, the Flyers made the Warhawks pay with not one, not two, but three looks inside to Meade for easy baskets. Miles furnished the first two.
Kennedy and Miles each hit a 3-pointer early in the second period, countering drives by Williams and Schureman.
Barrett later hit from the right baseline to get GC within seven, but Carter found Meade for another layup, and a fall-away jumper by Kennedy triggered a 3-point play that gave Franklin County its largest lead of the half.
Smith’s corner three and two free throws by McMath sliced the gap to 30-23 at the half.
Ward hit twice from deep in the third quarter. The Flyers tucked an 11-5 run between the two shots, however. Laster landed five of those.
A key bucket off the bench from Amelia Wells made it a 48-36 Franklin County advantage with eight minutes to play.
The Flyers have left doors open thanks to their 57 percent free throw shooting on the season. This time, they slammed it on the Warhawks with 15-for-22 (68.2 percent) efficiency.
Laster’s 3-point play pushed the lead to 55-41. Williams hit two free throws and nudged GC within nine in the closing stages, but a pair of free throws by Nevaeh Carter closed it out.
Mostly cold shooting (35.4 percent) hampered GC's comeback hopes.
GC still advances to next week’s 11th Region tournament and will travel to face one of the other district champions – Scott County, Tates Creek or Madison Southern – at 7:30 p.m. Monday. The region draw will be held Saturday morning.
Franklin County draws either Frederick Douglass, Lafayette or Madison Central at home in the opening round. Semifinals and the championship will be played at McBrayer Arena in Richmond.