BY JAKE DONOVAN
Following back-to-back lopsided losses, the Franklin Lady Rebels knew just where to turn in order to regain its swagger—its long-running crosstown rivalry with Centennial.
Seven different Lady Rebels scored in a 51-19 rout of the visiting Lady Cougars in their District 11-AAA matchup on Friday at Franklin High School.
Red-hot freshman Sydney Ryan led all scorers with 21 points, also adding five rebounds and three assists. Senior point guard and Valdosta State commit Jillian King added eight points, four assists and three steals while coming off the bench.
“We did a much better job of protecting the basketball tonight than we did on Tuesday,” Franklin head coach John Wild told Home Page of his team’s significant improvement from a 49-24 loss to the Nolensville Lady Knights earlier in the week. “I also liked that they held each other accountable on the basketball court, they were talking to each other all night.
“We put a lot of emphasis on that in practice on Wednesday and Thursday, holding each other accountable and talking about the importance of rebounding, holding the ball and guarding the basketball.”
Whereas they never gave themselves a chance on the road versus Nolensville, Franklin jumped out to an early lead on Friday which they never relinquished. Ryan ignited the Lady Rebel offense, hitting a three on the first possession of the game and leading a balanced attack that saw Franklin go up 14-2 after one.
Senior forward Ashland Hardin did her best to pick up her Lady Cougars in the second quarter—and really all season long—scoring 6 of her team-high eight points in the quarter.
“We have a lot of young players on this team, so it’s important for me, for Tamia (Petway) and the other seniors to make sure everyone stays focused every play of the game,” Hardin said afterward. “We just have to be confident every game that tonight can be the one that turns the season around; if not, just focus on the next one.
“That has to start with me, I take that responsibility of setting the tone and making sure my teammates know I will never quit on them, no matter the score.”
It’s been an uphill climb all season long for the Lady Cougars (3-5/0-4 in 11-AAA play), who have been blown out in all five losses this season. Franklin was the latest to put up big numbers against them, extending their lead to 31 after three quarters thanks to the hot hand of Ryan and senior Darcy Doran (12 points, 3 rebounds, 4 steals).
“We are competitors and play hard every possession,” Ryan told Home Page. “It’s just an instinct in me, when the other team scores we want come right back and match if not outdo their last play. If they hit a two, I want to bury a three. We need to carry that spark every game to avoid losses like (Tuesday) and play like we know how.”
Landing a Rivalry Night pairing versus Centennial—whom they have now beat four straight since suffering an upset tournament loss in 2017—was right on time for the Lady Rebels (6-5/2-2), who return next Friday for a home game versus Independence.
As for the Lady Cougars, all that can be done is to keep hope alive.
“Losing is never fun, but it’s only a small part of what this game is about,” noted senior swing Tamia Petway (2 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals), who scored the game’s final basket in capping yet another hard-nosed effort on the court. “Play hard and walk out with your head held high. Our next win is one game away when we get back on the court.”
Centennial gets back on the court next Friday, traveling to Dickson County High School for a district matchup with their fellow Lady Cougars.