The Franklin County girls’ basketball team has four freshmen or sophomores in its starting lineup, but composure and confidence don’t seem to be lacking.
The Lady Flyers got all their points from their starters — led by sophomore Dasia Kilbourne’s 17 — in defeating Bullitt East 53-42 on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Republic Bank Girls’ Louisville Invitational Tournament at Bellarmine’s Knights Hall. They’re a young team but look more than ready for the late rounds of this high-profile event.
“We were all really excited and ready to play in this tournament,” said Kilbourne, who has been a varsity player since seventh grade and a starter since eighth. “We were all kind of sleepy on the bus, but I know that when we walked in the gym we were ready to play and see how things would turn out.”
They turned out well for the Lady Flyers (16-3), No. 7 in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings. They won their 10th straight game and advanced to face No. 3 Butler in today’s 10 a.m. semifinal at Christian Academy.
Sophomore Malaka Frank (11 points), freshman Rebecca Cook (10), senior Nannilena White (nine) and freshman Princess Stewart (six) also contributed to a collective effort that outshined No. 9 Bullitt East.
The Lady Chargers (16-5) got 24 points from their own freshman standout, Lindsey Duvall, but struggled to find other options in shooting 30.2 percent, including 3 of 19 from 3-point range.
Franklin County’s starters all average between 9.5 and 11.5 points, and coach Joey Thacker believes Kilbourne, Frank, Cook and Stewart are all top-10 players in the state in their respective classes.
“We’ve got really good balance,” he said. “We’ve had a different leading scorer 10 or 11 times, and that’s hard to find. All these kids look for each other, and we’ve got a pretty good assist-turnover ratio. I just think our upside is enormous.”
Although the game was close throughout, the Lady Flyers never trailed after taking a 12-9 lead with 2:05 left in the first quarter. In the fourth quarter, Kilbourne and Frank each scored while being fouled to halt Bullitt East’s attempts to seize momentum.
The Lady Chargers scored only one point in the final 3:30, on Duvall’s free throw with 1:49 to play that cut Franklin County’s lead to 48-42. They couldn’t get a bucket after that, and Franklin salted the game away with free throws.
Bullitt East coach Chris Stallings called Franklin County “a very explosive team offensively,” so he was pleased with his team’s defense. But he thought Bullitt East did not attack Franklin County’s zone defense enough, leading to the Lady Flyers making more free throws (15) than the Lady Chargers took (11).
“When we hold teams in the 50s, we’ve got to win those games,” Stallings said.
Kilbourne said it would send a big statement if the Lady Flyers can keep winning in such a prestigious tournament.
“It would mean a lot, and it would show that the talent that we have – young talent – that we’re ready to get far as young players and get far as we get older,” she said.
* Not listed among the seven finalists for Kentucky’s Miss Basketball award earlier this week, Butler’s Danielle Lawrence took out her frustrations on Notre Dame.Butler 58, Notre Dame 28:
Lawrence, an IUPUI signee, scored a game-high 13 points and added six rebounds, three steals and two assists as the No. 3 Bearettes (16-2) rolled past the Pandas (13-7), who were last year’s state runners-up.
Freshman Jaelynn Penn scored 12 points, and Madison Winebrenner added 11 for Butler.
Butler used a swarming defense to take an 18-3 lead early in the first quarter. Notre Dame pulled within 21-13 on Hillary Hellman’s layup with 5:36 left in the second quarter, but it was all Butler from there.
The Bearettes closed the first half with a 10-3 run for a 31-16 lead, then scored the first 10 points of the third quarter — capped by Lawrence’s steal and layup — for a 41-16 bulge.