By Carey Phillips
Tori Ensley scored 20 points Friday leading Franklin to a 53-47 Mountain Seven Conference women’s basketball victory over Smoky Mountain at the SM gym.
Avery Moffitt added 12 points for the Lady Panthers.
Greenlee Flynn led the Lady Mustangs (6-7, 1-3) with 14 points.
“We couldn’t finish,” Coach Ollin Dunford said. “I was extremely proud of their effort and energy almost the entire game. I think fatigue set in late as there were some costly mistakes. We wanted to win really bad, and Franklin did too. We’ve got to give credit where credit is due.”
Aiden Nicholson returned after sustaining an ankle injury during the Christmas invitational.
“I was extremely happy to have her back on the floor,” Dunford said. “For her to play like she did the entire game knowing she wasn’t 100 percent showed she played with a lot of heart. That’s the warrior in her, and she came up big.”
Franklin scored the first seven points and led 15-8 after the opening quarter.
SM turned things around in the second period with a 12-2 run, including five apiece from Nicholson and Xaila Spencer, for a 22-18 lead with 2:31 remaining in the half.
The Lady Mustangs were up 26-23 at halftime.
Spencer’s follow shot opened the second half scoring for SM’s largest lead, 28-23.
Ensley’s free throw ended an 8-2 run giving Franklin a 31-30 edge with 4:09 left in the third quarter.
Her three-pointer with 3:12 on the clock put Franklin ahead for good at 34-32.
The Lady Panthers led 39-36 entering the fourth period and extended the margin to 53-43 on Ensley’s basket at the 1:29 mark.
Flynn hit six field goals and two free throws.
Spencer and Nicholson both finished with nine points, Becca Corona-Smith added seven, Aaliyah Voss scored four, and Suzannah Raynor and Alli Fortner both had two.
The Lady Mustang JVs fell to 7-4 with a 45-17 loss. Franklin led at quarter breaks by scores of 11-2, 21-4 and 38-13.
SM’s Dyritzis Chinea scored 10 points.
“We knew they were going to press us and be aggressive and try to run the whole time,” Coach Jason Melvin said. “For whatever reason we struggled to settle our nerves. Right off the bat when they scored and pressed us we kind of stopped trusting ourselves and made turnovers and they capitalized. The one thing I’m proud of is we actually kind of bonded together as a team and started really playing hard. The effort and hustle were there. We just waited a little too long to settle in.”