The Franklin County Lady Wildcats came into last week’s “Rumble on the River” basketball tournament at Southwestern with a lofty state ranking and a reputation for tough pressure defense and timely scoring.
That’s exactly what the Switzerland County Lady Pacers got in the semifinal round of the tourney, and after a slow start, the Lady Pacers stayed right with the Lady Wildcats before falling by a final score of 50-38.
“They’re pretty good,” Switzerland County coach Wayne Ellegood smiled. “They are one of the better teams in the state, and we just didn’t get off to a very good start against them. We got down early and just couldn’t climb back out of that hole.”
The coach said that although the game was a loss, he still saw many positives down the road from playing such a strong team in such a tough tournament.
“I think that was important for us,” Wayne Ellegood said about playing some stiffer competition as a means of preparing for state tournament play at the end of the year. “That’s the reason that we came down here, to play good competition — and we did that three times. I was pretty pleased with the outcome.”
The Franklin County pressure resulted in 19 Switzerland County turnovers in the game — well above the Lady Pacer average — but Coach Ellegood said that his team’s defense forced 14 turnovers, so things were a wash by the end of the contest.
“We just didn’t shoot the ball very well, that’s a big reason for the loss,” the coach said. “When you play good teams, there’s a lot of pressure put on you and you have to make shots when they are available, and we didn’t do that.”
Coach Ellegood said that he was pleased with his team’s performance against Franklin County, noting that there were some things he might have done differently if given that chance, but feels that standing up under the intense pressure of the Franklin County press was good for his team.
“That’s their game,” he said. “They pressure you everywhere and force you into turnovers. They ended up winning the whole tournament, so obviously they are a very good basketball team because this tournament was filled with good teams.”
Franklin County was only ahead 15-10 at the end of the first period; but by halftime the Lady Wildcats had extended their lead to 12 — 33-21 — while continuing to put pressure on the Switzerland County offense.
The lead would swell to 48-31 by the end of the third period, with Franklin County holding a 19-point lead at one stage of the period. Switzerland County didn’t fold, coming back to outscore their opponents 7-2 in the final quarter as Franklin County held the ball to run time off of the clock — but it was a case of too little, too late, as the buzzer sounded with the final score Franklin County 50, Switzerland County 38.
Ashley Chase led Switzerland County with 12 points in the contest; while Jaclyn Ranz added nine points and two assists to the effort.
Ashley Bright had seven points, including a three-pointer, and two assists; Kodi Driver had four points including a three-pointer and two steals in the game; and Courtney Cole added three points.
Holly Jackson had two points in the game; and Natalie Daugherty contributed one point while pulling down a team-high five rebounds.
Neither team got a spark from the freethrow line, as Switzerland County finished 10-for-20 from the charity stripe; while Franklin County was 6-for-11.