No question that Decatur Central’s girls came to play in Friday’s IHSAA Sectional 11 semifinal round in Southport’s Fieldhouse.
No question that Franklin Central came to play defense.
The Flashes limited the Hawks to four points over the final five minutes, and that made the difference as Franklin Central advanced to Saturday’s championship game by stopping the Hawks 46-36.
“We went cold as ice,” DC coach Nic Carothers said after the Hawks finished 14-9. “If we get a few more shots to fall, we’d be all right.
“I’m proud. We battled. We’ve just got to have a little more discipline.”
The Hawks advanced Wednesday by stunning favored Roncalli 53-52.
They were in it Friday as well. In addition to battling the Flashes’ defense, they were battling injuries to starters Kamrah Banks and Soriah Gouard. Banks was out for only a few minutes; Gouard was battling a hip injury that forced her to the floor in the second quarter.
Banks, who scored 17 points Wednesday, totaled 14 on Friday, hitting two two-pointers, two 3-pointers and four of five free throws. She was the only Hawk in double figures.
Gouard, who also scored 17 Wednesday, finished with seven, as did freshman Naja Winston. Senior Cadence Thomas knocked down a 3-pointer. Freshman Kenadi Pressley-Banks and senior Aliseonna Garnett added two each and senior Marier Fuller hit a free throw. FC limited the Hawks to one 3-pointer in the second half.
Sophomore Lily Graves scored 13 points and junior Carys Wilson 10 for FC.
“This year was totally different; we all played together,” said Fuller. “Everyone thinks it’s the Kamrah Banks show, but she’s a team player. We were all in this together.”
Garnett, who will throw the discus and put the shot on a scholarship at Indiana State, echoed that sentiment.
“It’s way better than last year,” she said. “Just one year together, and we have all this chemistry. I’m just glad to be a part of it. I wish I had more time with them. They’re going to go a long way.”
Carothers praised his seniors, including Thomas, Fuller, Garnett and Kyra Vanscoy.
“Cadence accepted her role as our sixth man,” he said. “Our seniors stepped back for the others. I’m going to miss them.”
With both teams focusing on defense, the Flashes led 10-8 after one quarter and 24-15 at the half.
In the third quarter, DC closed to 24-21, then came up empty on its next three possessions. The Hawks fell behind 30-21 before Banks hit a 3. FC led 34-26 at the end of the period
In the fourth quarter, the Hawks rallied from an eight-point deficit, cutting the lead to 35-32 with 5:12 left. But they scored only four points the rest of the way.
“Growth is hard,” Carothers said. “These are growing pains. We’re just trying to compete the right way, just be there for each other. Play for the person beside you.
“Soriah hurt her hip. She’s been fighting that for a while. She’s tough as nails. I can’t say enough about her.
“We had four freshmen on the floor and we were still in it. Nobody expected us to be here. I’m very proud.”