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Defense lifts Centennial over Franklin

Centennial used pressure defense to take the Franklin boys out of their comfort zone Friday night, forcing the Rebels into 17 turnovers and coming away with a 49-46 victory on the road.
The Cougars (6-5, 2-1 District 11-AAA) shot 7-of-10 from the free throw line over the final 1:17 to seal the win, and their defense held Rebel big man Ben Hagaman to just four points.
“My kids had a lot of grit, and they grinded it out,” Centennial coach Lawanza Crutcher said. “The game was intense the whole night long.”
Centennial had three players in double figures, led by freshman Drew Joiner with 11 points. Bruer Atkinson and Tryel Dodson each had 10 points for the Cougars. Franklin was led by Joe Critchlow with 17 points, while Zach Muir and Matt Hargreaves had nine points apiece.
The Rebels (5-9, 1-2) were never able to find any offensive rhythm, and they had trouble breaking Centennial’s full-court pressure in the second half.
“I thought we did a poor job of attacking their press,” Franklin coach Jamie Wilson said. “We quit doing what was successful early.”
Negating Franklin’s size advantage with Hagaman inside was a focus point for Crutcher, he said. By clogging up the paint with defenders, the Rebels were unable to work the ball inside, either for a shot attempt or to kick it out for a perimeter shot.
Hagaman’s four points did not come until the final 45 seconds of the game. 
“In the first half they did a good job executing at the basket, and we were finally able to get some bodies on them and get some rebounds,” Crutcher said.
Despite being down 10 points midway through the fourth quarter, Franklin was able to chip away and cut the lead to three four times over the final two minutes. Wilson was disappointed the Rebels struggled with the pressure defense, and they also shot just 3-of-9 from the foul line, missing out on those free points.
Franklin outshot the Cougars in the second half, hitting 10-of-18 from the field versus 6-of-19 by Centennial, but Crutcher’s team made up for that with an 11-of-15 performance at the free throw line.
“They took it to us and came out with a victory,” Wilson said. “They shot it better from the line than we did.”
Even with the loss, the Rebels are still in the middle of the district race, with multiple teams trying to claim one of the top spots.
“I think it’s very open,” Wilson said. “I think Brentwood’s probably head and shoulders above everybody because of experience, but I think we’re all right there.”
Franklin girls 56, Centennial 32: Franklin led throughout and held the Lady Cougars to just eight points in every quarter. The Lady Rebels (6-7, 2-1) were led by Anna Patton’s 15 points, along with Peyton Cantrell scoring 12 and Hannah Harris with 10.
Centennial (7-6, 1-2) trailed by 16 at halftime and could never find a way to catch the Lady Rebels, who took advantage of Cougar mistakes and turned them into points.
Jordan Johnson led Centennial with 11 points, while Shay Morton had five and the trio of Cassie Sandfer, Delani DiStephano and Hanna Hollaway each had four.
Franklin hosts Ravenwood on Tuesday, while Centennial travels to Independence. 

Posted on: 1/3/2014


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