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.”
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.