STORY BY JAKE DONOVAN | PHOTOS BY DEB SCALLY
This time around, the Ravenwood Lady Raptors made their second half rally count.
Six weeks after seeing a late surge fall just short in a draining home loss to the Franklin Lady Rebels, Ravenwood returned the favor in claiming a 41-28 win Friday evening at Franklin High School.
Sophomore point guard Lexi Erickson led the visiting Lady Raptors and all scorers with 15 points, including eight in a pivotal 3rd quarter that saw Ravenwood take a lead that it wouldn’t relinquish.
Of course, all it took was for anyone on the floor to eventually get hot as Franklin held a 12-11 lead at halftime.
“The first half was ugly for sure,” Ravenwood head coach Mariska Harris acknowledged. “The second half, a much different story. I thought we did a good job the first half defensively, and our offense picked up in the second half.”
It was slow out the gate for both teams. The first point—singular—didn’t come until more than four minutes in, with even that a struggle as Sydney Ryan hit just one of three free throws after being fouled on a three-point attempt.
“Our shots just didn’t fall from anywhere tonight,” noted Ryan, Franklin’s season-leading scorer but who was held to just five points on Friday.
A three from the highly-touted freshman scoring machine gave Franklin a 4-0 lead—and the game’s first basket, 5:15 into the opening quarter. Jazmyn “Jaz” Harmon finally put Ravenwood on the board with cut to the basket before closing out the quarter with a three.
The junior swing—who is already committed to Alabama-Birmingham—ended the game with 11 points on the night, below her season average but far less important than getting a district and rivalry win over Franklin.
“This rivalry is still new to me, having only been here for one full year,” said Harmon, whose family relocated to middle Tennessee from Chicago one year ago. “But you hear so much about players like Sydney and playing them already earlier this year we really did our homework and came prepared the second time around.”
Still, it took a lot of first half ugly and some sage words of advice from the coaching staff to get their engines going.
“I chewed Lexi out a bit during halftime,” admitted Harris of what turned out to be perhaps her most effective halftime speech of the season. “But I know she can take it.
“I told her that as our floor leader and as our team captain, she has to step it up every night. There can’t be no off nights, especially against a team as good as Franklin.”
The 5’2” point guard absorbed her coach’s words and promptly responded.
“I definitely had more confidence in my shot in the second half,” noted Erickson. “Coach talked to me, she just told me to go out there and do my job as the team leader. It was a reality check. Sometimes as players we get lost a little bit (mentally) and we need that hard talk to bring us back.”
Ryan went one of two from the stripe to start the second half, giving Franklin a 13-11 lead that was just never going to last. Erickson quickly took over from there, draining a three and a subsequent basket following a steal on the ensuing possession to keep Ravenwood ahead for the rest of the night.
“I thought we did a much better job in the second half of settling than we did in the first half, where we were making the extra pass and hesitating before taking our shot,” Harris said of her team’s midgame adjustment.
A basket by Kate O’Neil brought Franklin within one, but was buried amidst a 13-2 scoring blitz that ended with a Harmon layup just inside the buzzer to put Ravenwood up 24-14 after three.
Aiding the Lady Raptors cause was the forced shift in defensive strategy for the Lady Rebels in light of their best defender, Darcy Doran playing with three 1st half fouls.
“We just didn’t come out with the same intensity we had versus Brentwood on Tuesday,” noted Doran, Franklin’s senior leader who will attend Christian Brothers University in the fall.” A lot of tonight is on me, I didn’t do my job defensively. In fact, I was overaggressive in the first half and it really affected my play in the second half.”
Ravenwood exploited the situation, getting post players Savannah Dews (8 points) and Taya Lee (5 points)—the lone senior on the Lady Raptors—heavily involved in the offense down the stretch. In fact, the visitors had opened up a 16 point lead by the time Lady Rebels floor general, senior Jilian King hit a three at the midway point of the 4th quarter.
Late three-pointers by freshmen Bergen Allee (team-high 9 points) and Jean Costello (3 points) made the final score closer than the night actually was.
“Coach Wild even said it, the vibe felt different tonight,” Ryan admitted afterward. “It was so emotional coming out of Tuesday’s win versus Brentwood but for some reason it just wasn’t there for us tonight.”
It was there for Ravenwood, who climbs past Franklin for 4th place in the highly competitive District 11-AAA standings). The Lady Raptors improve to 6-4 in the district, but are guarding against getting too caught up in a “revenge” win.
It definitely feels great. We came so close last time and hated that we lost that way. It’s always nice to get revenge on a loss.
“We *really* wanted this,” Harmon emphasized. “It’s all we were talking about all day. I’ve never been on a team that has beaten them, so for me personally it feels so good.
“We just have to make sure to remember to bring it the next game. We have to remember the feeling, and not take it for granted especially going into a big game like we have with Dickson County on Tuesday.”
Ravenwood (6-4) faces second-place Dickson County on the road Tuesday; Franklin (5-5) also hits the road in a Tuesday meeting with first-place Page.