Princess Stewart had 21 points as No. 8 Franklin County came to Lexington and defeated No. 25 Henry Clay, 64-53, in a rematch of the 11th Region finals from a season ago.
Henry Clay opened hot, putting up the game's first eight points and poised to spring the upset. But the Flyers settled down and kept plugging away and faced a manageable 16-14 deficit entering the second period. From there, Franklin went on a 7-0 run to take a lead it would never relinquish.
“We weren’t driving the ball,” said senior Malaka Frank, a Western Kentucky signee. “We were playing around the perimeter, and when we play that way we don’t play good at all. We just have keep driving it.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
Dasia Kilbourne, a starter for the Flyers, was out with an illness.
“To come out here and win without a kid that was MVP of the region (last season) showed a lot of maturity I thought,” Flyers Coach Joey Thacker said.
Franklin built 10-point halftime lead and controlled the third quarter, which ended with Blue Devils star T'laya Lyvers on the ground with cramps. Lyvers returned with 5:49 left in the game, in the the midst of what would end as an 8-3 run that trimmed Franklin County's lead to 52-47. The Flyers answered, doubling up Henry Clay, 12-6, the rest of the way.
Frank faced a unique dilemma at 4:29 mark of the fourth. She was initially signaled for her fifth — and game-ending — foul but another scorebook showed her with four. After about a five-minute gathering of officials and scorekeepers, it was determined that she was still eligible after having committed a fourth foul.
She laughed it off but Frank would have been pretty peeved if she’d been disqualified, especially with the Flyers trying to stave off Henry Clay’s rally.
“I knew I did not have five fouls,” Frank said. “I just felt like (the official scorekeeper) was trying to cheat. Everybody was sat there and said that I had four fouls, even her own team. I was gonna be really upset.”
The Flyers, who like to use a pressure defense that was handicapped by foul trouble in the second half, just wanted to come out and “play how we play” according to Stewart.
“They’ve been talking a whole lot of smack. We get that from everybody because we’re the hunted now, not hunters,” Stewart said.
Franklin County (11-1) was coming off its first loss, 70-63 against Ryle. Multiple players attributed that blemish to having recently gotten back from a 16-hour bus drive because of their trip to a Florida tournament.
Brooklyn Miles, a seventh-grader, gave Franklin a lift off the bench with 10 points on 3-for-4 shooting, including twice finishing through contact for and-one attempts. Junior Rebecca Cook had 13 points and seven rebounds before fouling out.
Lyvers led Henry Clay (9-5) with 22 points, 12 rebounds and five steals — all game highs.
Josh Moore: 859-231-1307, @HLpreps
Franklin County 64, Henry Clay 53
Franklin County (11-1) — Frank 7, Stewart 21, Arrastia 4, Cook 13, Courtney 9, Miles 10.
Henry Clay (9-4) — Lutz 3, D. Jackson 2, Price 2, Lyvers 22, Thompson 6, Greene 7, Jo. Jackson 9, Jones 2.