As a rule, coaches aren’t necessarily thrilled about encountering adversity, regardless of the sport. But when their teams respond positively to hardship, it can provide a bonding experience – and that’s an intangible Franklinton boys basketball coach Terrence Horne has seen often from his Red Rams down the stretch of the 2016-17 campaign.
In the past two weeks, Franklinton has defeated Southern Vance on the road in the closing seconds before coming home and winning a rematch versus the Raiders after trailing by as many as 15 points.
Franklinton’s “comeback crew” was at it again last Thursday as the Red Rams (17-4, 11-2) erased a huge intermission deficit before clawing back to edge South Granville in overtime – and move into a first-place tie with the Vikings in the NCC standings.
Friday’s regular-season finale at South Granville (19-4, 12-1) will be for the league championship – along with the right to host the NCC tournament championship the following Friday.
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“It’s just a testament to our guys,” Horne said. “They work hard and just don’t give up – there is no doubt about that. Our defense helped get us back in (Thursday) – we only gave up six points in the fourth quarter.”
Still, the Red Rams trailed by three points in the final minute and were aided by a pair of front-end free-throw misses from South Granville that could have clinched the game.
Instead, Franklinton made the most of its last-chance opportunity when Jerrail Brodie connected with a trey that not only forced overtime, but kept the Red Rams alive in the NCC race.
“I was just looking to get a shot,” Brodie said. “The play wasn’t really set for me, but I knew I had to score if I got the ball. (Point guard Smith Gupton) made a good pass to me, and I got a good look.”
He continued: “It’s special because we just keep fighting. When we can come back like that, it’s a lot of fun.”
Brodie is one of eight seniors on Franklinton’s roster, and that veteran experience and leadership has been on display in close games – and never more than in the decisive moments of Thursday’s thriller.
This year’s standings provide a rubber match of sorts for the Vikings and the Red Rams. South Granville was the regular-season league champ two seasons ago, while Franklinton pulled off that feat in 2015-16.