Franklin ends South Kortright girls' sectional dreams
By John Bernhardt
Jordan Beers makes Franklin girls’ basketball coach Mike Dutcher’s job on the sidelines look easy. The senior all-purpose high school hoops star is a one-person basketball demolition squad. In the most anticipated high school basketball game of the season, Beers had her complete battery of talents on display before a capacity crowd at SUNY Oneonta’s Dewar Arena, as undefeated Franklin leveled previously undefeated South Kortright, 39-30, in last Wednesday’s Section IV, Class D, semifinal.
Beers would score 26 points, 13 in the first quarter, to guide Franklin past Southern Cayuga to win the Class D crown on Saturday night.
Beers does everything for Franklin. From the bottom of a 2-3 zone, the Franklin senior is off like the wind, turning every defensive rebound that comes her way into a coast-to-coast scoring chance. Beers is lethal in transition and dismantles any full court defensive pressure, taking each inbounds pass and advancing the ball to the frontcourt, breaking double and even an occasional triple team thrown her way.
It was a Beers defensive rebound turned full-court layup that got Franklin going two minutes into the semifinal. South Kortright answered with a six-point run.
Freshman Brianna Laing drove from the right wing into the middle of the lane, then used a left-handed banker to finish for a score. Laing’s 17-footer from the top of the key, and Tori Rockefeller’s high bank shot from eight-feet feet inside the lane gave SK a 6-2 lead.
In transition once again, Beers drove from the left side of the court for a second Franklin basket, but Laing canned a six-foot jumper along the baseline to sustain the four point Rams’ advantage.
Franklin knotted the score at 8-8 when Paige Fairchild took a Mariah McNeilly pass from the top of the key and downed a 15-footer in the corner. Beers used a Jessica Downin screen to rub off a Ram defender, drove the left baseline, was fouled, and dropped in both shots to force the tie.
With less than 10 seconds to play in the quarter, SK freshman Lexi DuBois ripped down an offensive rebound, her put back nudging the Rams in front 10-8. The final seven seconds of the period proved decisive. Beers took in the inbounds pass after the DuBois score, pushed the ball hard into the frontcourt, stopped several steps behind the arch, and buried a three-point bomb on the buzzer. Franklin 11 - South Kortright 10.
It shouldn’t have been a big deal. But, Beer’s long-range tally electrified the crowd and seemed to unnerve the young, inexperienced, and in some respects, untested Rams. The Beers bomb was the first three points of a 14-point Purple Devil run that devastated SK. Beers would score 11 of the 14 points during the spree.
SK went nearly seven minutes in the period before DuBois rolled an inside shot around the rim that dropped through the nets to end Franklin’s run. But Beers downed one of two fouls shots and a 13-foot jumper in the last minute of the half sending Franklin to the lockers on top, 25-12.
South Kortright tightened their defensive schemes during the halftime break, but the Rams’ outside sharpshooters would never find their range during the contest. The Purple Eagles pushed their advantage to 33-16 at the three-quarter mark before a final SK scramble to get back in the game.
SK’s fast paced tempo clearly had Franklin exhausted as time wound down during the final period. Sam Acuna came alive for SK on the offensive end scoring eight points in a 12-4 SK run that whittled Franklin’s lead into single digits at 37-28 with 2:56 to play.
That’s as close as SK would get with Franklin advancing to the finals with a 39-30 victory.
Beers finished with 24 points. Marisa Cawley added 11 for Franklin.
Acuna and Laing paced South Kortright with eight points each. For the second year in a row, the Rams finished the season with a Section IV tournament loss, that defeat their only setback of the season. SK ended the year at 19-1.