It came down to the very end – and Franklin-Simpson prevailed.
Behind an all-around team effort and big plays down the stretch, the Wildcats recorded a hard-fought 64-62 win Monday night at Warren East in the opening round of the Kentucky 2A Sectional Tournament.
“That’s what we talked about after the game – we didn’t panic when things weren’t going our way,” Franklin-Simpson coach Dee Spencer said. “Stayed the course. It’s huge to finally come through and step up and get a win.”
Franklin-Simpson trailed 60-59 with 1:43 remaining and then 62-61 with a less than a minute left, but a steal, score and a three-point play by Kyjuan Stutzman put the Wildcats (2-3 overall) up two with 32.3 seconds on the clock and they ultimately prevailed.
DeMarco Chatman led the way for FSHS with a game-high 18 points, while Andreyous Miller and Stutzman each finished with 13 points. Tedric Patringer had nine points – and made a handful of important plays late to help seal the win for the Wildcats.
“It’s a very big win,” Partinger said. “They had home court advantage. We had to come in here and be prepared.”
Ryan Carter and Kaleb Matlock each led Warren East (0-5) with 12 points, while Brayden Wardlow scored 11 points and Tatum Simmons pitched in 10.
Franklin-Simpson jumped out to an early lead, and Demarcus Hogan’s 3-pointer with 1:55 remaining in the first quarter gave the Wildcats a 19-10 lead. Dawson Knight followed up with another triple – this one coming just before the buzzer – to put the visitors up 25-15 after one.
Carter’s score inside cut Warren East’s deficit to 31-26 with 2:53 left in the second, and the Raiders soon made it a five-point affair of 35-30 at halftime.
The two sides went back-and-forth in the second half.
Matlock knocked down a 3-pointer from the right wing to cut Warren East’s deficit to 40-39 at the 3:53 mark of the third, but Isaac Marshall answered with a triple of his own to give Franklin-Simpson a 43-41 lead with 2:57 left in the period.
“Came out flat in the third,” Spencer said. “They took it to us a little bit. They started making shots and then the shots weren’t falling down here. It’s just part of it. Everybody makes runs – you’ve just gotta continue to do what you’ve been doing and hopefully things work out. They did today.”
Wardlow’s left corner 3, followed by a Sam Wheeler free throw, sent the Raiders into the fourth up 47-46, and they soon held a 54-50 lead with 5:32 remaining after Simmons connected on a shot from beyond the arc.
Carter and Wardlow scored on two straight possessions – and then Isaiah Andrews hit a shot inside – to put East up 60-53 with under four minutes left, but Franklin-Simpson regrouped and assembled an 11-2 run to complete the comeback.
“Their experienced showed there late,” Warren East coach Brandon Combs said. “They didn’t get rattled when they went down two or three possessions. I thought our inexperience showed at times. But are we making progress? Yeah – I think so. I think those young guys are making a ton of progress going forward.”
Warren East returns to action Tuesday when it hosts Allen County-Scottsville at 7:30 p.m. Franklin-Simpson will be back on the court Thursday at home vs. Warren Central at 7:30 p.m.
FSHS – 25 10 11 18 — 64
WEHS – 15 15 17 15 — 62
FSHS: DeMarco Chatman 18, Andreyous Miller 13, Kyjuan Stutzman 13, Tedric Partinger 9, Demarcus Hogan 3, Dawson Knight 3, Isaac Marshall 3, Logan Lacouture 2.
WEHS: Ryan Carter 12, Kaleb Matlock 12, Brayden Wardlow 11, Tatum Simmons 10, Devaughn Williams 9, Isaiah Andrews 5, Logan Sanders 2, Sam Wheeler 1.
Girls: Warren East 54, Franklin-Simpson 25
Lucy Patterson scored a game-high 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds and Tanaya Bailey finished with 11 points to lead the Warren East girls’ basketball team to a 54-25 win over Franklin-Simpson in the Kentucky 2A Sectional Tournament.
“It’s always good to get right back at it,” Warren East coach Jenny Neville said. “That’s what I told ‘em, ‘Get out here and play – and get out here and get a win.’ It was good to get a win in the first round of the tournament. We try to drive off our defense, and they do a really good job of creating turnovers, which creates offense for us. Tonight, they all did a really good job.”
Warren East (4-1 overall) held a tight 11-7 lead after the opening quarter before outscoring Franklin-Simpson 14-5 in the second to take a 25-12 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
Patterson, Bailey and Kelsey Sparks had each scored six points for the Lady Raiders at the break, while Hadley Turner was leading the Lady Cats with eight points.
Turner paced Franklin-Simpson (2-3) with 9 points.
East pushed its lead to 32-16 with 1:10 left in the third quarter and was ultimately up 36-16 entering the fourth. The Lady Raiders remained in control throughout the final eight minutes and never allowed Franklin-Simpson to get into a rhythm.
Warren East returns to action Tuesday as it hosts Allen County-Scottsville at 6 p.m, while Franklin-Simpson hosts Warren Central at 6 p.m. Friday.
The Lady Raiders will travel to Hart County on Jan. 7 for the next round of the 2A Tournament.
“We knew we had the tournament coming up,” Patterson said. “We knew we needed a big start and to let everyone know we’re coming hard into this tournament.”
FSHS – 7 5 4 9 — 25
WEHS – 11 14 11 18 — 54
FSHS: Hadley Turner 9, Evyn McCutchen 5, Kate Norwood 4, Maylea Partinger 3, Conleigh Wilson 2, Alera Barbee 1, Ashanti Johnson 1.
WEHS: Lucy Patterson 16, Tanaya Bailey 11, Kelsey Sparks 8, Hailey Hymer 5, Olivia Price 5, Jordyn Downey 5, Caroline Forrester 4.