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FHS Lady Warriors Roll To Third Straight NJSIAA Group IV State Championship

Freshman Christina Midgette Makes Her Presence Known

Lady Warrior Christina Midgette goes up for two of her team-high 16 points March 10 as Franklin won its third consecutive Group IV state championship.


TOMS RIVER – Freshman Christina Midgette made a big splash on a big stage March 10, playing a key role in the Lady Warriors’ crushing 73-35 defeat of Lenape High School to claim their third straight NJSIAA Group IV state championship.

In winning the state championship before a raucous crowd at the RWJ Barnabus Health Arena, the Lady Warriors preserved their perfect season at 32-0 and claimed a berth in the Tournament of Champions.

The soft-spoken Midgette finished the day with a double-double, scoring a team-high 16 points and pulling in 10 rebounds, split evenly between both ends of the court.

Midgette wasn’t the only Lady Warrior to post a double-double; junior Kennady Schenck scored 15 points and also pulled in 10 rebounds.

Senior All-American Diamond Miller scored 15 points, junior Keona Schenck scored 11 points, and senior Tiana Joy Jackson contributed nine points to the winning effort.

Also getting on the board were the Ufuah sisters, Onoseta with 6 and Luese with 1.

Midgette’s performance was not overlooked by her coach and fellow players.

“She had a phenomenal game today, I’m so proud of her,” coach Audrey Taylor said. “The last game she was a little nervous, this game she came out ready, focused, attacked, was able to get finished and her ‘and one’s,’ so it was a beautiful thing.”

“She’s just getting better,” Taylor said. “She’s trusting her teammates, her teammates are trusting her, she was great on the boards today. She does the little things, she understands her role as a freshman. She has very high potential.”

“I think she really did (make a statement),” Kennady Schenck said. “She knocked down her shots, she was driving, kicking and she got offensive boards and defensive boards. It was really good. It looked like we were all working together to get this win.”

“She had a very big impact and we need her,” Keona Schenck said. “She’s going to help us win.”

“Just like everybody else, she lives for these moments, even as a freshman,” Miller said. “Every time you step on the court, it doesn’t really matter what age you are, she’s a baller, so she balls.”

Midgette said she thought she made a statement in the game; she just went with the flow, she said.

“After I made my first points, and the ‘and one’s’ kept coming, and the energy kept coming and I just went with it,” she said.

Midgette was 4 for 6 from the foul line, with two of those points coming after she was fouled while scoring.

“It’s only going to get better from here,” she said.

As they have the last few games, the Lady Warriors started the March 10 game slow.

Three free throws by Lenape’s Neveah Sutton about a minute and a half into the game gave the Indians their only lead at 3-0.

That lead lasted less than a minute, evaporating when Miller sunk the first of her two 3-pointers.

Miller struck again from outside the arc, putting Franklin up 6-3.

Two foul shots by Sutton after a foul by Miller brought Lenape to within one point, but the Lady Warriors were not done.

Midgette popped with a floater in the paint, was fouled for her effort and converted the and-one.

After that, the Lady Warriors were on the run.

A 12-2 run by the Warriors led to them closing out the first quarter with a 20-7 lead,

The Lady Warriors started the second quarter with a 7-2 run, capped by a field goal in the paint by Jackson and the point after for the foul.

The half ended with Franklin up 36-12, with Lenape’s last three points coming from free throws.

The Lady Warriors outscored Lenape 23-5 in the third quarter, wrapping it up with a 61-17 lead.

The last nine points of the frame for Franklin came courtesy of three-pointers delivered by Jackson, Onoseta Ufuah and Kennady Schenck.

Lenape outscored Franklin in the fourth quarter, 15-12, during which time Taylor sat most of her starters.

With the score 69-20 Franklin, Lenape went on a 13-0 run before it was stopped by a field goal by Kennady Schenck on the transition.

Overall, Franklin shot 71 percent while Lenape shot 73 percent.

The key to the Lady Warriors win was denying Lenape their strength, Taylor said.

“Our defense,” she said. “We started a little slow because of the fouls and we had to adjust how we played defense, but overall, I think our defense and how we played them, not allowing them to get the three-point shots up.”

“This team likes to shoot threes, doesn’t necessarily like to attack the basket, so we knew we had to play the three-point line and we did just that,” Taylor said.

Taylor also praised the play of Jackson.

“She’s our engine, she’s the one who makes things go, she makes sure things are moving, so Tiana is a key thing,” she said.

“We have a team, and every single player … I could probably talk about Keona and Kennady and Diamond,” Taylor said. “I mean, honestly, the whole team came together, there was no individual effort, we did it as a team.”

Jackson led all players with six assists. She said that was one of her favorite parts of the game.

“I think it’s like my favorite part, after defense,” she said. “I love the feeling of being able to help my team score. When I score, it’s like, OK, I know I can do that, but when I can help create something for someone else, that’s an amazing feeling for me. So I really take pride in my assists.”

Near the end of the game, Jackson was called for traveling on a spin move and successful layup, a call which came as a surprise to her.

“For four games straight, I’ve been trying the spin move and I haven’t gotten it,” she said. “I tried it earlier, so I said let me do it again. So I did it, and I made it, and I heard the whistle, and I was like and one. I was so happy, and turned to see it was a travel, and my heart dropped. But I got it back, so no worries.”

And while they savored being state champions for the third straight year, none of the players are ready to rest on that achievement.

“It sounds amazing, but we’re not done yet,” Jackson said. “But this feels good. I cannot complain at all.”

“It feels good, but we’re not done yet,” Miller said.

The Lady Warriors are the top seed in the Tournament of Champions, so they’ll get a bye until March 14, when they’ll take on the winner of the St. Rose-University quarter-final.

The final game is set for March 17 at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway.

The Franklin Reporter & Advocate live-streamed reactions to the game:

Posted by The Franklin Reporter & Advocate on Sunday, March 10, 2019

 

Here are some scenes from the game:

 

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