Tag Archives: Franklin County

Rutledge keys balanced attack in No. 7 Franklin County win over Jefferson

No. 7 Franklin County 71, Jefferson 63

Franklin County vs. Jefferson

What difference a year makes.

Tuesday night’s Region 8-AAA bout between Jefferson (4-5, 0-2) and No. 7 Franklin County (9-1, 3-0) pitted two teams with realistic goals of making noise in the state tournament. Last year’s postseason went in different directions as the Dragons finished 17-11 and lost in the first round to Westminster 53-50 while the Lions, ousted in the region tournament, had to rely on the power ratings system to sneak into the postseason where they had a Cinderella run, finishing just 15-14 but taking a trip to the Elite Eight before falling 60-58 at Dawson County. Fast forward 10 months later and Franklin County is far from being labeled an underdog anymore, off to their best start in over a decade and now regarded as one of the favorites to win Region 8.

Still getting used to playing with a target on their back, the Lions would have their hands full with 6-foot-8 Navy-signee Jacob Radaker. All-State senior guard Titus Brown got Franklin County off to a hot start, scoring seven of his team-high 21 points in the first quarter including a three-ball off an assist from running mate Micah Roebuck that made it 10-4 in favor of the Lions.

Minutes later, Brown returned the favor helping Roebuck get a clean look at a three in the corner to give the Lions a 14-8 lead after one period of play.

Owen Parker provided the Dragons with a lift in the first quarter and his energy around the basket became infectious as 5-foot-7 water bug Kam Robinson began to squirt into the lane and cause problems for Franklin County’s perimeter defense. His layup cut the lead to 19-18, but the Lions responded with an 8-1 run as the defense tightened the screws and found points in transition off a Roebuck layup and eventually pushed the lead to 27-19.

Spencer Darby ended the Jefferson drought with an offensive rebound and pull-up jumper.

Roebuck swooped in for a tough layup with 35 seconds left and on their final possession, the Lions dug out an offensive rebound off a loose ball scramble which led to a Qua Jones three at the buzzer to build the lead to 33-24 at the half.

Franklin County extended their lead to 40-27 at the 6:15 mark of the third quarter on a Brown three from the top of the key before Radaker finally awoke and started to dominate around the basket. The D-I big man sparked a 10-2 run which brought the score to 42-37 with 4:06 remaining and finished with 11 of his game-high 24 points in the frame, but it was 6-foot-3 sophomore post Keylan Rutledge who played neutralizer for the Lions.

The nimble wide bodied red-head scored nine points of his own in the quarter to give Franklin County a 54-46 lead after three. As Robinson and Radaker continued to attack the paint and draw the Dragons closer and closer, Rutledge provided body blows to stymy the comeback.

Jefferson had the lead cut to five on numerous occasions but Rutledge’s tough play kept them at arm’s reach as a crafty face up step-through, two of Rutledge’s 20 points, gave the Lions a 63-56 lead at the 4-minute mark.

The two teams traded stops and buckets down the stretch as free throws loomed large. Franklin County shot 20-of-34 from the line but made them when they needed to as Brown went 6-of-8 in the fourth quarter to ice the game as the Lions closed out a 71-63 victory, leading wire-to-wire.

My Take

Having a target on your back isn’t for everyone. Following a season-opening 67-58 loss to Class 7A Mill Creek, I wasn’t sure how the Lions would respond. Was last year’s deep playoff run simply a case of getting hot at the right time? Or was this senior-laden group seriously ready to handle the pressures of being one of Georgia’s best teams in Class 3A? Nine-straight wins answers that question pretty quickly. Winning the Bearden Border Wars Championship over Byrnes, SC has helped springboard the Lions into continued success against Georgia’s stiff competition. With Morgan County still figuring out its young pieces, moving to 3-0 in Region 8-AAA is crucial as the Lions keep pace with No. 5 Hart County. The backcourt of seniors 6-foot Titus Brown and 6-foot-1 Micah Roebuck is one of 3A’s best. Brown is a great finisher in the lane and is aggressive when getting to the basket, not giving up his dribble when he first meets resistance and instead able to back down and maneuver his way to the cup after checking all angles. He finished with a team-high 21 points and came up big in the fourth quarter by coolly knocking down free throws. Roebuck chipped in with 18 points as a jump shot first combo guard that has enough physicality to finish at the rim. Titlan Wells, the third key senior guard, isn’t as polished offensively as Roebuck or Brown but makes up for it with his hustle and defensive mindset. He finished with 4 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals. The X-Factor for Franklin County was none other than 6-foot-3 sophomore post Keylan Rutledge. When I first saw Rutledge last year, he was an interesting looking player, not sure what to expect out of him but as a freshman you could tell he knew how to play the game and had quick feet for a man his size. On Tuesday night, Rutledge was nothing short of tremendous, especially considering his matchup with 6-foot-8 Navy-signee Jacob Radaker. Rutledge was patient on the low block and displayed great footwork. He hit baby hooks, turnaround jumpers and showcased great touch on his passes. Rutledge has an advanced feel for how to play on the low block and use his body. If Rutledge can consistently play like he did on Tuesday, he is what can help Franklin County play at a championship level. That third scorer is paramount to the Lions’ success. Franklin County as a team runs tremendous sets that get clean looks. They love back cutting from the baseline and Coach Jason Shaver is a wiz with his ATO play calling.

Jefferson has played a tough schedule thus far that will prepare them for the rigors of the middle of the season and beyond. They have gone 2-1 vs. 7A schools and 1-1 vs. 6A schools but find themselves 0-2 in the region. Now that football players have returned, the Dragons should round into form over the next couple weeks. Jacob Radaker was quiet in the first half but showed why he’s going to Navy in the second, posting 24 points and 14 rebounds. He is long and has a soft touch inside. He didn’t float out to the three-point line much and anchored himself in the paint where he knew he had an advantage. The Dragons were held to just 4 threes as Franklin County clogged the lane on any drive and kick opportunities. 5-foot-7 junior Kam Robinson is lightning quick with the ball and excels at getting into the teeth of the defense. He had 11 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. If he can knock down threes on a regular basis it will open up even more driving lanes. Owen Parker gave a nice spark in the first quarter and finished with 9 points and 5 rebounds. His activity inside the paint led to second chance opportunities for the Dragons. Jefferson’s most interesting player was 6-foot-3 sophomore Malaki Starks. Recruited as an athlete on the football field that plays quarterback, running back and corner back with offers from Florida, UGA, Georgia Tech, LSU, Tennessee and South Carolina, Starks didn’t resemble anything of a sophomore. Starks has a college body already and is physical specimen. He didn’t show much offensively with 4 points, but he had 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 steal and can cause havoc with his athleticism especially on defense.

Top Performers

Franklin County
Titus Brown – 21 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal
Keylan Rutledge – 20 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
Micah Roebuck – 18 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 steal
Titlan Wells – 4 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals

Jacob Radaker – 24 points, 14 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block
Kam Robinson – 11 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals
Owen Parker – 9 points, 5 rebounds
Malaki Starks – 4 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal

SportalShowcase Preview


Ten teams from across the state of Georgia will descend on South Paulding High School on Saturday, December 8th for the inaugural SportalShowcase.  Join us in the gym or watch online at www.SportalTV.live

12:00PM: Mundy’s Mill vs. Franklin County

Mundy’s Mill enters the season with momentum behind 6-foot-5 Rayquan Brown and 6-foot-7 Jordan Black. The dynamic duo along with 6-foot-5 center DeMarcus Fannin power a Tiger team that loves to play fast. Franklin County has patiently taken their lumps in Region 8-AAA and now are prepared to fight for a state playoff berth behind a talented 2020 trio. 6-foot combo guard Micah Roebuck was an All-Region selection and Coach Jason Shaver’s top scoring option. Titlan Wells and Titus Brown round out a solid core that plays together year round.

2:00PM: Woodville-Tompkins vs. Chattooga

Woodville-Tompkins reached new heights in Year 1 under Coach Lenny Williams, earning an Elite Eight berth in Class A-Public. No longer the best kept secret down on the coast, the Wolverines will get everyone’s best shot now that they move up to Class AA and open the season ranked No. 2. All-State 6-foot-5 senior guard Preston Crisp averaged 17 points per game a year ago and sees running mates 6-foot-6 junior Benard Pelote and Region Player of the Year Charleston Willingham back for one last ride. Chattooga has gone 72-11 over the past three seasons in north Georgia and has proven to be a pest when overlooked. Just two years ago the Indians upset future McDonald’s All-American Reggie Perry and Thomasville and were three points away from securing a Final Four trip. Chattooga, who opened the season ranked No. 9 in Class AA, returns nearly everyone from last year’s 23-4 team that lost in the First Round of the tournament. 5-foot-6 Jundraius “Nuk” Adams is one of the most exciting players in the state. The Indians focus on their defense and fast pace play to make up for their lack of size.

We preview the final three games of the day.

4:00PM: ELCA vs. Grayson

The transfer bug bit Class A-Private Preseason No. 4 Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy hard, but Coach Derrick Mason still has more than enough to rival last year’s 27-4 Final Four team. College of Charleston signee Trevon Reddish is a Preseason First Team All-State pick while Mekhi Cameron and KJ Jones are big wings that can shoot. Inside, Felix Uadiale has blossomed into a double-double threat while 6-foot-7 Jordan Smalls can play multiple positions. Grayson has appeared in back-to-back Class AAAAAAA Final Fours. Highlight maker Deivon Smith moves into the lead guard role full-time while 6-foot-5 Reco Hallmon will be asked to score more. Jevon Tatum led DeKalb County in scoring last year at 18.3 points per game and is one of a handful of transfers that will help make Grayson one of the deepest teams in the state.

6:30PM: Coffee vs. Campbell

Two Elite Eight teams in their respective classifications clash in an evenly matched bout. Coffee opens the season ranked No. 4 in Class AAAAAA after running out of gas against two-time defending state champion Langston Hughes 71-67 in the third round. Coach Pernell Smith has a pair of Preseason All-State Second Team selections in physical 6-foot-2 slasher Jayce Moore who averaged 19.6 points and 11.6 rebounds and 6-foot-7 Georgia Southern signee Mackenzie McFatten. The Trojans bring their south Georgia toughness to Douglasville where the Spartans will be waiting. Campbell lost to eventual state champion Meadowcreek 67-57 to end their season. 5-foot-9 point guard Terrell Burden is lightning quick and one of the best point guards in Georgia. 6-foot-5 Brandon Deravine is a versatile forward and 6-foot-6 Drew Thomas, new to the program, is a long forward that provides great help on the glass and defensively.

8:30PM: Jeff Davis vs. South Paulding

For the first time in school history a swarm of Yellow Jackets from Jeff Davis will be migrating to the Metro Atlanta area. Coming off their first region championship in school history, Jeff Davis must build around 2020 Top 100 recruit 6-foot-6 Ja’Queze Kirby, a two-time All-State selection. The junior is must-see TV and will try to improve upon his average of 19.5 points, 14.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 3.2 steals and 3.6 blocks. Freshman CJ Parker could crack the rotation as an outside shooter to pair with Kirby. The host Spartans are a battle-tested group led by seniors. Coming out of Region 5-AAAAAA, South Paulding relies on defense to frustrate opponents. Cam Armstrong is Coach Gil Davis’ top option after averaging 17 points per game as a junior. Seniors Shane Gibson, Chandler Travis and ultimate hustle-guy Sha’mi Shields round out the Spartans’ core.