Morton ends FC's basketball run

by Paul Keane

CLINTON — The two things that couldn’t happen — turnovers and foul trouble — happened, ending Franklin County High School’s varsity girls basketball season on Saturday, Feb. 25 with a 44-24 defeat at the hands of the Lady Panthers of Morton.

The loss ended the Lady Bulldogs’ season at 22-8 and snapped a winning streak that began after a 49-37 loss on Monday, Jan. 16 to Bay Springs in the MLK Classic.
FCHS finished as the No. 1 seed in District 7-3A after posting a perfect 12-0 mark in league action this season.

“Turnovers and fouls hurt us,” said Head Coach Rickey Van O’Quinn. “When we watched film on them, we emphasized that we had to play good defense and not turn the ball over because they thrive off turnovers.

“I’m extremely proud of what these girls accomplished this year. We overcame some adversity and no one thought we would get here or get this far. We accomplished a lot of things no one thought we would.”

FCHS was handcuffed defensively as early foul trouble limited what O’Quinn and his Lady Bulldogs could do.
Two players fouled out of the game and Morton ended up hitting 18-of-34.

The Lady Panthers took the opening tip and quickly scored, then were fouled on two possessions, but couldn’t hit the free throws.
That allowed Niyla Wright to score and tie things up with 5:25 left in the opening quarter of play.
Kennedy Washington then drained a pair of free throws and Ja’Kya Brown added a free throw to give FCHS a 5-2 lead with 3:04 remaining.

Morton answered with a 5-0 run in the final 2:47 to take a 9-5 lead into the second quarter.

After the Lady Panthers hit a bucket to start the second period, DeAsia Buie scored consecutive buckets, then DaShara Hannon drained a three-pointer and the Lady Bulldogs were in the lead by a 12-11 margin with 5:15 left in the half.
Morton answered right back, though, putting together a 9-0 run to gave the Lady Panthers a 20-12 lead with 3:30 left before intermission.

That lead would be stretched to 23-12 as FCHS suffered through a scoring drought that lasted 3:58 of the second quarrier.
Buie hit a free throw to end the drought, but, by then, Morton was in the double bonus.
The Lady Panthers hit 3-of-4 free throws down the stretch before Wright hit a free throw to close the deficit down to 26-14 at the mid-game break.

Brown hit a free throw to start things off in the third quarter, but Morton answered with a 3-0 run before Brown hit a short jumper to make it 29-17 with 5:19 left in the period.
Buie would hit a short jumper before Arya Williams sank a free throw and Raine Edmond drained a pair from the charity stripe to make it 31-21 with 2:49 remaining.

Morton answered by hitting 4-of-6 free throws during a 38 seconds stretch, opening up a 35-21 lead before Brown hit a pair of free throws.
Morton scored with one second remaining to make it 37-23 heading into the final eight minutes of action.

Using a stalling, four-corners motion offense, the Lady Panthers milked plenty of time off the clock, taking things down from the 6:10 mark to 4:20 left before a foul allowed for two made free throws.
Morton would add another free throw to make it 40-23 with 3:55 remaining.

After Brown hit a free throw for FCHS, both coaches began clearing their benches.

The free throw by Brown was the only points of the quarter for the Lady Bulldogs. For the game, Brown and Buie led the offense with seven points each while Hannon and Wright each scored three, Washington contributed two and Williams and Edmond poured in single points. The Lady Panthers held a 37-30 rebounding advantage and forced 27 FCHS turnovers.