Cathage escapes Franklin County

Published 6:00 am Thursday, February 23, 2006

WESSON — Missed opportunities haunted the Franklin CountyBulldogs all night, as the Carthage Tigers eliminated the defendingSouth State champions 43-42 Tuesday in Co-Lin’s Mullen Gymnasium inClass 3A first-round playoff action. The Bulldogs committed 21turnovers in the defeat.

“It was a tough loss,” said Bulldog head coach Chris Jordan.”Very tough.”

Franklin County (13-10) had its chances to put the Tigers (25-3)away. A missed dunk at the end of the third quarter by seniorswingman Wesley Brown served as an omen of what was to come for theBulldogs.

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“This was a game that could have went either way,” said Carthagecoach Rob Crumbly. “Franklin County is a class act. They played agood game.”

Carthage went up 43-41 with 0.17 remaining in the contest off aJash Lovett layup, forcing the Bulldogs to call a timeout with 14seconds to go. Franklin’s last shot at tying the game was benefitedby a Carthage foul with 1.1 remaining on Bulldog senior forwardMarcus Tillman.

Tillman sank the first basket, but his second attempt failedshort and it rimed out as time expired.

“It was an emotional game on both sides,” added Crumbly. “Theball could of bounced any way. We were just lucky with that lastshot.”

Franklin led Carthage 22-20 at the half, before folding in thethird quarter to the Tigers 33-29.

“Our team just stayed content,” added Crumbly.

A Nagee Jones trey with 2:00 remaining tied the game at35-apiece for the Bulldogs. Franklin and Carthage traded basketsthe rest of the way, until Lovett hit the eventual game winner.

“I’m proud of my kids,” continued Crumbly. “We beat awell-coached and very strong Franklin County team tonight.”

Carthage will meet Hazlehurst in the Class 3A South StateTournament in Columbia Thursday night at 8:30.

O’Neal Wilder led the Tigers attack with 12 points, 10 boards,and two blocked shots. Lovett finished with nine points and asteal.

For the Bulldogs, Tillman led with 13 points, 15 rebounds, and ablocked shot. Brown added 14 boards, 13 points, and four steals.Freshman Jamie Collins chipped in with five points and tworebounds.