“It feels great to get the crowd into and your teammates on the bench into it,” Beers said of her fast start. “It just picks up everyone’s confidence and it picks up our defense.”
Still, SC (12-9) stayed right with the Purple Devils in the first half.
In a 29-second span, Jessie Kopp and Sydney Cullen hit a wing jumper and a baseline three-pointer, respectively, the latter giving the Chiefs a 25-24 lead 43 seconds before halftime.
But Franklin took the lead for keeps 10 seconds later when Cawley inbounded to Paige Fairchilds, who hit a 12-footer in the lane. Then with 10 seconds left in the half, Beers hit a three-pointer from left of the circle off the dribble to make it 29-25.
“In the first half, we were getting people inside and getting drives,” Heslop said. “We drew a few fouls and got shots on the inside. In the second half, they just stepped back (into a 2-3 zone) and we did not have a strong outside shooting night.”
Franklin’s 2-3 zone in the second half turned the Chiefs into a stationary jump-shooting team and they could not find the range.
When Jessie Kopp (team-high 10 points) made a driving layup with 7:40 left in the third quarter, SC trailed, 30-27.
A 14-5 Franklin spurt ensued and Beers played a role in all of it.
She started it with a short floater following a strong drive along the left baseline. Next, came a pull-up jumper from the foul line.
Then she found Mariah McNeilly behind the defense for a fastbreak layup. A pair of Beers three-pointers off the dribble came 32 seconds apart, the latter making the score, 42-31. When she set up Fairchilds for a layup off a bounce pass, the Purple Devils led, 44-32.
“She is playing at a high level,” Franklin coach Mike Dutcher said of Beers, who came into the night averaging an area-best 25.5 points. “For people who have seen her play or people who are seeing her for the first time, I think she’s made a statement all year that she is one of the top two players in the section. Night in and night out, she proves it against all kids of complex defenses. She’s a player.”