The Jackson County girls’ basketball team dropped to 0-7 on the year, but this loss perhaps offered a glimmer that the others hadn’t.
The Panthers fell to Franklin County 47-42 Friday (Dec. 13) at home, dropping to 0-3 in Region 8-AAA play.
“This was by far the best entire team effort that we’ve had, and it hurts to get the loss because they let everything hang out on the court,” said Julie McCutcheon, the team’s interim coach.
The game was tied 42-42 with 36 seconds left before a free throw from Paris Gaye, a steal and layup from Ellie Varner and a pair of free throws from Bailey Aderholdt sealed the win for Franklin County.
Carson Anderson finished with 10 points to lead Jackson County. Aderholdt scored 20 points for the Lions, 15 of which came in the first half as the Lions led 26-19 at the break. Jackson County successfully contained Aderholdt in the second half as the Panthers rallied.
“We made some adjustments at the half because she was what was carrying them in the first half,” McCutcheon said. “Our defense, they gave a lot of heart.”
Jackson County trailed 29-19 with five minutes remaining in the third quarter, but Anderson and Mikenna Duffy answered with two 3-pointers each in the period. A 3-pointer from Anderson with 35 seconds remaining in the quarter cut Franklin County’s lead to 36-33, and a free throw from Ashlyn Thompson narrowed the lead to 36-34 heading into the final quarter.
The Panthers kept pace in the fourth quarter with more big shots.
A 3-pointer from Bailee Bejin with 2:11 left in the game pulled the Panthers to within a basket (39-37) again. With a minute remaining, Anderson drove and fed the ball to Katie Hitt, who converted a short jumper to tie the game 40-40. Anderson later knotted the game 42-42 with a pair of free throws with 36 seconds remaining.
Gaye’s free throw with 31 seconds left put Franklin County ahead 43-42.
Jackson County came out of a timeout with a chance to take the lead, but turned the ball over on the inbounds play, which led to Varner’s layup and a 45-42 Franklin County lead with 25 seconds left.
Aderholdt’s final two free throws with 12 seconds left locked up the Lions’ victory. Franklin County went 19-of-28 at the foul line.
McCutcheon said the team’s miscue at the end was a result of not having had enough practice time for situational issues with her taking over the team after the season had already started.
“We haven’t been able to work on last-second stuff, situational stuff, normally the stuff you’d run through in summer camp and have underway when the season starts,” she said.
That said, McCutcheon reiterated that her team was close in this latest loss.
“A couple little things that swing the momentum our way, it could as easily have been a win for us as it was them tonight,” McCutcheon said.
Jackson County will have a fast turnaround as it plays Saturday at 11 a.m. against 11-0, Class AAAAAAA West Forsyth at Dawson County in the North Georgia Hoops Report Showcase.