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Holly Springs defense halts Franklin Co.

JACKSON — Playing perhaps one of the best high school teams inMississippi basketball history, Franklin County head coach ChrisJordan knew the odds were against his team.

Still, Jordan rallied the troops and the Bulldogs tried, givingthe Holly Springs Hawks all they wanted before falling 47-35 Fridaynight in the Class 3A State Championship game.

A sellout crowd of nearly 7,000 at the Jackson Coliseum watchedthe Bulldogs finish their season 24-8.

“We had a good year,” said Jordan after the game. “This bunch(Bulldog players) gave their all this season and I’m proud of themfor that.”

Jordan watched his feisty crew claw back into the game after asluggish start. Franklin trailed Holly Springs 19-8 after oneperiod of play and 28-18 at the half.

“We knew they were good,” added Jordan. “They were the bestdefensive team we’ve seen this year.”

Franklin County senior point guard Deandrea Cameron trieddesperately to break the Hawks’ talented defensive alignment withthird-quarter treys and steals that cut the HS lead to 37-30heading into the fourth.

“Franklin County kept coming back,” said Holly Springs headcoach Naylond Hayes. “They played us tough.”

Hayes’ Hawks (34-1) shut the door on a final Bulldog push in thefinal frame with an assortment of dunks by senior DeUntrel Mosleyand junior Brandon Ayers. The Hawks outscored the Bulldogs 10-5 inthe quarter.

“It feels good to get this one,” added Hayes about repeating asClass 3A State Champions. “Last year we had more talent and we wonit, but this year we didn’t, but we had more heart.”

Holly Springs’ heart and soul is All-State senior guard KennyDawkins. He led the Hawks’ attack with 23 points and three steals.He went 5-for-6 from the three-point line.

“We want Lanier,” said Dawkins afterwards about Tuesday’supcoming Dream Match against the Monta Ellis-led Lanier Bulldogs.”We feel we’re the best team in the state. The very best!”

It will be decided Tuesday night in Jackson, beginning at 7:00.Lanier, the Class 4A State Champion beat Jim Hill Saturday. It willmark the second Dream Match encounter ever between Mississippi’stop two teams after the State Tournament.

Lawrence County beat Jackson Murrah in 1992.

“I don’t know much about Lanier, but I do know that they knowhow to score,” added Jordan. “It should be a good match up.”

Jordan’s Dawgs got a team-leading 14 points from junior centerMarcus Tillman in the loss. He also collected six rebounds and twosteals. Cameron added eight points, two steals, two assists, andtwo boards.

Despite the loss, Jordan and the Bulldogs had a magical season,one that will go down as one of the best in the school’s history.It was one of over-achieving expectations and beating all odds tothe very end.

“We had a good run,” said Jordan. “A real good run.”