FHS Sports: Lady Warriors Battle B-R To Take Sectional Championship

Diamond Miller led all scorers in the Lady Warriors March 6 sectional championship win over Bridgewater-Raritan.

They had to overcome some tenacious defense to do it, but the Franklin High School Lady Warriors defeated Bridgewater-Raritan Regional High School March 6 to regain the title of NJSIAA Group IV, Section II champions.

Sophmore Diamond Miller led all scorers in the Warriors 78-56 win with 23 points, nine of them from the three-point zone. Keona Schenck scored 18 points, also with nine from downtown, and her sister, Kennedy, wasn’t far behind with 15 points.

Senior Monique Davis-Campbell scored 14 points, while Camille Gray scored six and Kiersten McCloud scored two points.

The game started ominously for Franklin when Bridgewater jumped out to a fast 5-0 lead, but Miller quickly took care of that.

After first sinking a shot from deep downtown to cut the lead to two points, Miller on her next possession evaded two Panthers’ defenders along the baseline to sink an easy layup, tying the game.

“Basically I was just thinking, my team needs to score, and if it takes me to score, then I’ll do it,” Miller said. “We just needed to see the ball go in the hole and once it did, we started clicking.”

After Miller tied the game, the Lady Warriors never looked back, ending the first quarter holding a 23-18 lead.

The Lady Warriors extended the lead to 12 points during the second quarter, and finished the half ahead 40-33. That didn’t come easy, however. The relatively young Warriors sometimes seemed rattled by intense double-teaming and pressure defense from the Panthers, resulting in turnovers that allowed Bridgewater to chip away at Franklin’s lead.

The second half belonged to the Lady Warriors, who outscored the Panthers 38-23. Still, there were times when it seemed that the Panthers might be breaking through, matching  the Warriors basket for basket.

But the Lady Warriors turned on the heat when they needed to, especially during the fourth quarter.

“That’s just how we play,” Miller said. “Once we click, you can’t stop us.”

Coach Audrey Taylor has consistently pushed the importance of defense to Franklin’s game, and that was no different after the championship win.

“Today we got a little caught up in not playing defense, and it hurt us,” she said. “We just kept emphasizing that because our transition is everything for us.”

Taylor said her first thought after Miller tied the game was, “go back and play defense.”

“I do not celebrate offense,” she said. “It’s great, I’m happy we got that basket, but it bothered me that we could get a basket here and give up a basket there. That’s not good basketball, and when we play teams at a higher level, we’re not going to be able to compete that way.”

“Diamond’s a great player, she’s gonna make big baskets, I need her to play on both sides and get rebounds, so I don’t get to excited at those moments, I just try to stay focused on the things we have to do,” Taylor said.

The effect of Bridgewater’s aggressive defense was some bad passes and bobbled balls. Taylor said that was one topic of conversation during halftime.

“We talked about the trap,” she said. “We got to the point where we were not expecting them, and that’s when the turnovers were happening. So now that we know it’s coming, we should know what to expect, we should know how to turn and pivot. It was just a matter of adjusting.”

Fan attendance had been growing during the Lady Warriors’ run to the sectional championship, and Taylor said that did not go unnoticed by the team.

“It was nice to see the gym filled, it was awesome to have everybody come out,” she said. “We love the support. The girls use that as their energy. It’s like a great sixth man. I wish they got a little more involved screaming defense, but it’s all good.”

During the sectionals, Franklin topped its opponents by an average of 23.5 points. The regional tournament starts next week at Union High School, where the Lady Warriors will take on Morristown on March 8.

2017 Sectional Championship vs Bridgewater


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