FHS varsity loses in semi-finals, JV playing championship games

Max McClure goes up for a shot against North Henderson.

Dan Finnerty – Sports Writer

On Thursday, Feb. 10, Franklin High School (FHS) hosted the first round of 3A Conference 54 playoff games for both men and women. On the men’s side, the Panthers dominated Tuscola with a final tally of 70-28 to bring their season record up to 20-4. Senior Parker Cabe led the way with 20 points, going six for six in shooting. Also contributing to the scoring were sophomore Max McClure with 16 points and senior Cal Drake, who scored 13, had five rebounds, three assists, and two steals. The win provided an opportunity for the #2 seeded Panthers to face North Henderson at Waynesville on Feb. 14 in the second round of the conference tournament. The Knights, who finished just behind FHS in regular season conference standings, bested Smoky Mountain in its first-round game, 99-90.

In the semi-final round on Feb. 14, the Panthers struggled against North Henderson all night and lost 59-55. The Knights out rebounded FHS and had a much higher three-point success rate, both taking and making more shots. The final score was closer than it was during most of the game. Earlier in the evening, top-seeded West Henderson lost to East Henderson, so the championship will now be the #3 versus the #4 seeded teams on Thursday, Feb. 16, in Waynesville.

The varsity women improved to 16-8 on the season after easily defeating their first-round opponent with a 56-29 victory over the East Henderson Lady Eagles. On Tuesday evening, the #3 seeded Lady Panthers took on #4 seeded West Henderson in their second-round conference game and for most of the game seemed to be headed to victory.

However, late in the contest fouls played a role in the final outcome. With just over a minute left, Franklin led by three points, 56-53. Within the last minute plus, referees made five different calls, most of them for double dribbles and all but one of them on the Panthers. The momentum shifted from Franklin to their opponent, who prevailed 58-56. Seniors Roslynn McCollum and Avery Moffitt had big games, along with sophomore Cali Queen; but, despite the standout performances, their season is now over.

The #1 seeded Lady Bears of Pisgah will face West Henderson in the championship game Thursday, February 16, in Waynesville.

JV teams head to tournament finals

Monday evening, Feb. 13, FHS junior varsity teams began their conference playoffs. The second seeded junior Lady Panthers hosted #3 Tuscola, while the top seeded JV boys were pitted against the fourth seeded Falcons of West Henderson.

The girls prevailed, 41-25, and the boys won, 58-50. With just over five minutes left in the game, FHS girls only led by six. The boys’ game was a series of double-digit leads enjoyed by the Panthers, only to have Falcons fight back to bring the separation closer again.

Both squads will now face the Pisgah Bears for the JV conference championship today, Feb. 16. The games are being held at Tuscola High School in Waynesville and are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. for the girls and 5:30 for the boys.

Panther Wrestler competes at 

championship level

FHS’ Nathan Diaz (senior), wrestling in the 220-pound category, made it to the championship round of the NCHSAA 3A West Regional competition. Finishing his season and high school career at 29-13, Diaz was bested by St. Stephens’ Isaac Burgin in the championship round. The regionals competition concludes the 2022-23 wrestling season.

4th Annual Franklin High School Unify: March Madness 

“Continuing the movement of building community,” the UNIFY March Madness Basketball Event will be hosted by Franklin High School in the Panther Den Thursday, March 30, with opening ceremonies and player introductions beginning at 6 p.m. Entertainment will be provided at halftime. The Franklin High School Booster Club will be sponsoring concessions.

What is UNIFY March Madness? Through shared basketball training and experiences, UNIFY March Madness will join and benefit students with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. With the help of teachers and coaches, Franklin High Leadership students will help plan and lead this event.

Through weekly practices, Franklin High Special Education students are currently practicing the game of basketball in preparation to compete in the UNIFY March Madness game.

The Unify March Madness game is free admission and is open to the public. Franklin High School and the student body invite the Macon County community to come enjoy this very special night in the Panther Den.