Mitchell shoots Fleming into a win over Franklin County

Mitchell shoots Fleming into a win over Franklin County 150 150 SWVA High School Sports

Franklin County HS, Rocky Mount, VA – The William Fleming Colonels stormed back from a nine point first half deficit to outpace the Franklin County Eagles 52-47 Wednesday night. The Colonels did it on a night that put their head coach, Coach Mickey Hardy, at the three hundred win pinnacle in his 18 year career with the Colonels. Hardy marked the record night by crediting others, It’s been a blessing. God has truly blessed me, blessed the teams I’ve been able to coach. Blessed the coaching staffs. And blessed my former players… I have had so many great ones.

Fleming Coach Mickey Hardy wins his 300th game

This game came down to a battle of styles as the Colonels typically like to get it up and down the court, while the Eagles drop back into a tough 2-3 zone. Early on it was Franklin County’s zone and some cold shooting for the Colonels that helped the Eagles enjoy a lead. Eventually though, the ball did start to drop for the Colonels.

Fleming Sophomore G/F 20 Elijah Mitchell buries a jumper

William Fleming G/F 20 Elijah Mitchell filled it up with eighteen in the second half alone, shooting the Eagles out of their zone. The Sophmore finished as the game’s leading scorer with twenty six.

Franklin County G 4 Khalik Witcher

Franklin County Coach Tom Hering beamed about his team even in the loss. It has been a crazy week for the Eagles inside a crazy season. “I am proud of the way we played tonight. We were in quarantine for ten days. We got back Monday with some of the guys. Some of them got back (just) today.” Coaches are nothing, if not creatures of habit. Not being able to practice at full numbers is daunting. Ask Coach Hardy, who had nine players available this week. The head man even laced up the sneakers himself to help fill a spot a time or two.

Eagle F 33 Eli Foutz looks to score over Fleming C/F 24 Zaquan Robertson

First Half – An icy start from the floor for both teams didn’t produce a lot of points in the first stanza. Fleming missed their first seven shots before Senior G 15 C.J. Goode dropped in a three from deep. Some of that credit goes to Franklin County’s defense. Coach Hering knew his team needed to play well defensively to win.

Colonel G/F 22 Malachi Jackson makes a move

“We were out contesting shots, didn’t allow them to penetrate and get to the paint. We were outsized at about every posiiton. We battled on the glass… that was the plan. Make them beat us from outside and keep them off the glass.” On the other end, the Eagles were having scoring issues of their own, going 2/10 from behind the arc and 1/5 on field goals. Even with all of that, Franklin County F/C 33 Eli Foutz made a short turnaround jumper inside with :53 left to give the Eagles an 8-6 lead at the first break.

Eagle F 33 Foutz draws contact as he takes it strong to the bucket

Eagle G 2 Bryce Witcher and Colonel PG 3 Miles Wilson wrestle over a loose ball

Franklin County added to their lead early in the second quarter as G 4 Khalik Witcher warmed up from the three point range burying two along with stroking three foul shouts. For Fleming’s part, G/F 20 Mitchell hit two three pointers, and two charity stripe tosses himself  to help Fleming stay in range. Still Eagle G 2 Bryce Witcher hit a mid range jumper at the buzzer to give Franklin County a 24-18 lead at the half. Coach Hering liked his position at the midpoint, “We talked about the game plan. Talked about what we needed to do to win against this team, and we did it (in the first half), we stuck to it.”

Franklin County F 5 Josh Luckett floats in for a score

Second Half – The second half was a horse of a different color. G/F 20 Mitchell began to warm to the lights and rim of Franklin County’s arena. His three pointer at the 4:36 mark drew Fleming back to within three at 27-24. Coach Hardy began to work Mitchell on the baseline running from corner to corner off a pick. F 33 Foutz drew a foul on C/F 24 Zaquan Robertson with 2:09 left in the third and his two foul shots gave Franklin County what looked to be their last lead of the game at 34-31. Mitchell nailed a three to tie it and Robertson finished strong inside in the last minute to put the Colonels up 39-34 with an eight point run.

Fleming C/F 24 Robertson goes up for two

Coach Hardy wanted to get the lead to see if they could stretch the Eagles out of their zone. “They (Franklin County) played it well tonight. It’s something different. We didn’t shoot well (early) but we started making some in the second half, and loosened them up a little bit.” Eagle G/F 3 Desmond Hudson hit a big three pointer to draw Franklin County back to within one at the six minute mark. Fleming point guard 3 Miles Wilson, who hawked the Eagle guards all game, scrapped for a loose ball on Franklin County’s end that earned the Colonels the ball back in a tie up. From there Sophmore G/F 11 Louis English executed an bucket and one pushing the lead back to four, 44-40. A few scores later F 5 Josh Luckett stroked a three just off the top of the circle to get it back to a one possession game at 48-45, but Fleming’s foul shooting took over from there.
Fleming put on a clinic at the charity stripe hitting 16/17 for the night. Late in the game,Fleming was nine for nine. Hardy highlighted Sophomore

11 Louis English as a young man who he wants to have the ball late in the game. “We are a pretty good foul shooting team. (F 11 English) Louis is one of our better free throw shooters on the team. He has got to get the basketball late in the game.“ With the 52-47 win, Fleming improved to 2-1 on the year.

Now back to that milestone. Three hundred wins is a big number in the coaching ranks. If you win every game in a typical high school season, it could take you twelve or so years to eclipse the mark. Coach Hardy achieved the feat in eighteen years. As you would expect, the head man was humble in his recollections, “It’s all about the team(s) and the program. It’s not an individual achievement. It takes a lot of great kids, great coaches and great support, from the administration to the AD’s (athletic directors) to coaches and the kids. We are one big family and it takes a family throughout.” …well said Coach.

William Fleming (4-0) next game, tonight against the Heritage Pioneers was cancelled due bad weather. The Colonels will be matched back up this Tuesday at home against these same Franklin County Eagles.

William Fleming Mitchell 26pts (1-FG, 6-3ptrs, 6/6 FTs) Robertson 8pts (4-FG) English 7pts (1-FG, 5/5 FTs) Goode 6pts (1-FG, 1-3ptr, 1/2 FTs) Jackson 5pts (1-3ptr, 2/2 FT) Webb 2pts (1 FG) 

Franklin County  – K Witcher 18pts (3FGs, 3-3ptr, 3/3 FTs) Luckett 10pts (2FGs, 2-3ptr) Foutz 7pts (1FG, 1-3ptr, 2/2 FT) Hudson 5pts (1FG, 1-3ptr) B Witcher 4pts (2FGs) Wright 3pts (1-3ptr, 0/2 FT) 


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