The Lady Panthers basketball team travelled to Greensboro last Thursday for the fourth round of tournament play in the North Carolina Girls State Playoffs for 3A teams.
The varsity girls broke several records as their dream season played out and with the people of Franklin cheering them on, they made their way to the Greensboro Auditorium for one more showdown with the Tuscola Mountaineers.
Coming in to the game, Franklin had won two of the three prior meetings, but this meeting would be a different type of game once the first quarter rolled around and center Maggie Stewart had to leave the game due to injury. Despite the loss of such a strong asset, the game was a back and forth affair that saw the teams hit the locker room in a dead heat at the half with Tuscola leading by one.
Both teams started the third quarter strong, each putting up 18 points, but in the fourth the Panthers weren't able to keep up the pace they had set early on, eventually losing 46-52 and bringing their amazing season to a close.
"It was a big blow for us when Maggie went out in the first quarter, but all of our girls gave us a great effort, they kept playing hard and we were in it right there until the end, we just couldn't get some of our free throws to go down," said FHS Coach Scott Hartbarger.
Next year’s lineup will resemble the team that awed fans this season, but will be missing a key player in Stewart who will graduate this spring.
"The girls had a tremendous season, they faced a lot of adversity and injuries, but they never quit working hard and it was a great accomplishment to get to the regionals," said Hartbarger. "They worked hard, it's a really good group, they had great chemistry and we're just looking forward to next year."