Dan Finnerty – Sports Writer
The Franklin High School (FHS) basketball regular season came to an end in Hendersonville on Friday, Feb. 3, with the varsity men losing a close, hard-fought game against West Henderson, 68-62. The Panthers went into halftime with a 7-point lead but saw the lead evaporate in the second half. The game went into overtime where the Falcons immediately took a 6-point lead that FHS was not able to overcome.
Senior forward Parker Cabe (#22) scored 22 points to pace the Panthers. The loss left the Panthers in second place behind the Falcons, which still had one remaining conference game at Tuscola.
The varsity women also lost a tough one against the Lady Falcons, 40-36, with junior Avery Moffitt (#24) scoring 13. The Lady Panthers ended their regular season in second place at 9-3 with two of the three losses coming against first place Pisgah.
The satellite round of the 3A Conference 54 playoffs begin Friday, Feb. 9, at the Panther Den for FHS. Who they draw is still to be determined. The semi-final and final rounds will be played Feb. 14 and 16 at Waynesville.
Both JV teams won against the Falcons and will host the first round of conference games. The boys triumphed 42-33 to end their regular season on a 12-game winning streak and a regular season championship. They head to the JV conference tournament with a 17-2 overall and a 10-2 conference record. The JV Lady Panthers won 35-30, ended the season on a 3-game winning streak, and finished 15-2 (8-2) The first round in the conference tournament is currently scheduled to begin either Friday, Feb. 9, or Monday, Feb. 13.
Head coach reflects on JV boys’ season
When reached for some comments on his players’ season, FHS’ head JV basketball coach Tres Rogers offered ample evidence of his enthusiasm and approval.
“We are proud of the work the guys put into getting better as individual athletes as well as a team.”
Rogers’ players won the regular season in the conference and now head to the tournament as the top seed.
“Anytime you win a championship you have had an extraordinary season and the guys accomplished that goal,” he said. “Our program is in a very good spot with the middle school riding a wave of success, the JV team being successful, and the varsity having a shot at a second straight conference championship.”
The Panthers’ basketball program is playing at a high level all around with every level finishing with a winning record. Each team is preparing for the Mountain 7 Conference tournament and hosting the first round.
“As far as highlights from the season, I think our win against Rabun County at their place was a momentum builder for the season,” said Rogers. “Anytime you can get a victory down there it has to make the list of highlights for the season. Our two wins against North Henderson were both hard-fought victories against a really good team that is well coached. And, of course, we were going on the road to West last Friday, knowing that we needed to get a victory in order to at least get a share of the conference title.”
As far as players that had a great year, Rogers stated that every single one of his guys contributed.
“They made each other better every day and I can honestly say that all of them made strides this year, so our prospects for next season are great,” he said.
The JV program has numerous returning players and also some of the Macon Middle School players moving up to the next level. The program benefits and grows because of the competition just to make the teams. The coach said that if he had to single out a few guys, Noah Brannon had a great year. Brannon averaged 12.3 points per game during conference play but also had to rebound, handle the ball at times, and play out of position throughout the season. Braydon Hervey is another player that Rogers spotlighted.
“He is undersized but gave us great energy and competitiveness every night. I think his progress this season was big for us as well.”
Rogers added that Aiden Sizemore brought “energy,” especially on defense, and Addix Sutton “had a calming presence at point guard and gave us good all-around performance, contributing in all aspects of the game.”
He noted that Braylen DeZarn was another high energy player who brought speed and quickness on the court defensively. Talon Smith was a strong defensive presence, played multiple positions, and could stretch the defense with his outside shooting. The bench, with Tristan Messer, Aaron Bravo, Tristan Gibbs and Brennon Cabe, contributed with big games this season.
Coach Rogers said if he had to pick a surprise player, it would be Cabe – “who I think is growing into his body physically but still has some growing to do as well. He has a really good basketball IQ and is working hard to get better. I think at one time or another we had him play every position on the floor this season.”
The JV squad only allowed an opponent to score 40 or more points seven times this season, while averaging 51.2 points per game. Rogers believes “defense wins championships, and we are looking forward to the conference tournament next week.”