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Wilkins and Lady Red Rams take down Warriors

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FRANKLINTON - Franklinton's Katherine Wilkins went off for a career-high 21 points as she and the rest of the girls basketball team dismantled East Wake 67-49 at home Tuesday.

The Red Rams held a double-digit lead for the last three quarters. After a slow start, Franklinton pulled away with a 19-11 advantage at the end of the first quarter thanks to some hot shooting from Wilkins.

From there, the Red Rams took control of the game and stayed ahead all the way through. Franklinton went into halftime up 34-21, ended the third quarter up 49-32 and then capped things off with a steady 67-49 victory. That's their best offensive performance of the season so far.

Franklinton head coach Matthew Hockaday said the players did a great job of working the ball inside and then hitting outside shots when they needed to.

"Our post game was there tonight," Hockaday said. "When we start out strong in the beginning, we try to work the ball inside out. The girls stepped up tonight."

Before the match-up with East Wake, Wilkins had never scored more than 20 points in her high school career. The junior point guard dropped 16 points in just the first half.

"Kat led the way for us tonight," Hockaday said. "She put up points in the first half. That gave us the boost we needed."

Wilkins said the 48-40 loss at Bunn Nov. 26 put a bad taste in her mouth. She wanted to go out there and help her team win after the disappointing result against Franklinton's rival.

"I just knew we had to piggy back off our last loss," Wilkins said. "I wanted to come back hard for this game. We stayed calm out there on the court."

Franklinton also had great scoring from Miracle Cornell with 16 points. Most of her scoring came from the fourth quarter where she dropped nine in the period.

Freshman Semirah Duffie played a big part in the second half with 11 points and finished the night with 13. Amber Rushing contributed with 10 points and Rebekah Smith dropped 11 points.

Defensively, Franklinton held their opponent to under 50 points for the fourth time this season. Hockaday said his players focused on shutting down the inside game to force East Wake to make tough outside shots.

"We just kept East Wake's big players out of the paint," Hockaday said. "Our biggest thing was double-teaming inside near the basket. It worked out."

For Wilkins, it was all about not being too aggressive on the court and waiting for the right opportunity.

"We just played our defense," Wilkins said. "We didn't go for the steal, but instead waited on it."

With the win, Franklinton improved to 3-2 overall and 2-0 at home this season. After coming off a 16-10 season from last year, the Red Rams have returned four starters this season. Hockaday said the main thing the girls need to work on is to continue building off that team chemistry.

"The biggest thing for us is being a family," Hockaday said. "The girls need to communicate with each other on the court. We've started out rough in the beginning of the season. The girls are now encouraging each other. I can't ask for more."

As for East Wake, they dropped to 2-2 overall after losing their first road game of the season. The Lady Warriors will try to bounce back when they play Rolesville at home Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Franklinton will have a rematch with Bunn at home that same date and time.

"We need to stay patient," Wilkins said. "When we get into a hurry, things mess up. If we stay patient for these next games coming up, we'll be fine."