WAKE FOREST — Franklin Academy’s boys basketball team won its first state playoff game in school history with a 54-50 victory over Eastern Wayne Tuesday, Feb. 21.
The Patriots have never advanced to the second round before. They hosted a playoff game and pulled off the historic win. Head coach Ryan Kimball reminded his players that they have to play at their highest level in order to achieve this great accomplishment.
“It’s tough coming into your first playoff game where you’re favored to win,” Kimball said. “I just kept telling the guys that they’re the favorites to win. They are the best team and they can do it. That motivation and positivity helped them turn it on in the fourth quarter.”
Colby Jenny, Franklin Academy’s senior captain, led the squad with 18 points in the win. He said it’s awesome to be a big part of one of the school’s proudest moments in athletics.
“This win means a lot to me, especially being a senior,” Jenny said. “It’s like icing on the cake for my time here at Franklin Academy. It’s been a great season.”
It wasn’t a great start to the game for Franklin Academy. Eastern Wayne went up 12-4 and took a 20-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Patriots stepped up in the second quarter, outscoring the Warriors 17-9 to cut the deficit to 29-23 at halftime.
In the third quarter, both teams kept pace with each other and scored 17 points each to go into the fourth with a 46-40 score. With 36 seconds left in the game, Franklin Academy took the first lead of the night after Jenny stole the ball and made the layup in transition to put the Patriots up 51-50.
“I was watching how Eastern Wayne’s guards were playing the whole game,” Jenny said. “They always started their plays with a certain pass, so it was pretty open from there. I just made the right move to jump on it.”
Eastern Wayne was called for charging on the following possession and Franklin Academy extended its lead on free throws. Hayes Lewis made both of his free throws with 15 seconds left to give the Patriots a 53-50 lead. Franklin Academy ended the night with a 54-50 victory.
“One of the biggest things was mixing up our play calls to try to get the guys comfortable on the court,” Kimball said. “Once we got settled in, our continuity hit Eastern Wayne hard. As soon as the ball started moving, everything was history from there.”
Franklin Academy made even more history the following game. In the second round of the 2A state playoffs, the Patriots defeated North Lenoir 43-42 at home Thursday, Feb. 23.
Jenny once again led the team with 12 points and eight rebounds. Ben Perry came up big for the Patriots with 10 points and five rebounds, plus three steals.
However, Franklin Academy’s historic playoff run was cut short by an 84-43 loss to Goldsboro on the road Saturday, Feb. 25. The Patriots finished the season 19-11 overall, which is the most wins in a single season since 2010 when Franklin Academy went 28-7.