STORY BY JAKE DONOVAN | PHOTO BY DEB SCALLY
Franklin Lady Rebels senior leader Darcy Doran has long ago earned her reputation as a shutdown defender.
It’s a role she once again played to perfection in Tuesday’s home District 11-AAA 59-46 win over Independence Lady Eagles, even if at one point at the expense of her own teammates.
Doran delivered one of the more complete games of her stellar four-year career at Franklin High School, contributing 17 points, nine rebounds, five assists, two steals and one blocked shot on the night.
Not included among the steals was a mid-air ball she snatched on what was intended as a cross-court pass from senior point guard Jilian King (4 points, eight assists) to freshman Bergen Allee, who would drain a three on a short shovel pass from Doran.
“I take pride in my defense, and tonight just wanted to be everywhere,” Doran told Home Page. “That play, I probably could’ve been somewhere else. In that moment, I thought she was passing to me. I guess I just stole it, saw Bergen and finished the pass for Jill.”
It resulted in three points for Franklin, who led for all but the first 0:30 of the game.
Independence came out well-intended, with senior forward Kelsey Leedle—a Queens University of Charlotte commit—nailing a three to begin the game. Allee responded in kind, scoring from behind the arc on back-to-back possessions to permanently put the Lady Rebels ahead on the night.
Franklin led 26-11 after one, firing on all cylinders in coming off a bye on Friday and a heartbreaking 52-47 loss to district-leading Page one week ago. While they never trailed in this game, there were plenty of moments where Independence threatened to close the gap.
With Doran containing Leedle (7 points) for most of the night, Amanda Haylett (team-high 13 points) and center Kayla Miller (12 points) stepped up on the offensive front, coming through with clutch baskets every time Franklin threatened to pull away.
The Lady Eagles didn’t struggle so much on offense as they did in just keeping the ball away from the Lady Rebels. A big key to Franklin’s win was time of possession and second chance points, both aided by the Lady Rebels’ 16 offensive rebounds on the night. Doran was responsible for seven of them, while sophomore Kate O’Neil (8 points, 8 rebounds) pulled down another four.
“Everyone played great tonight,” Sydney Ryan, who led Franklin with 19 points said of her team’s all-around effort. “Jill (Jilian King, Franklin’s senior point guard) was great distributing the ball. Bergen was hitting threes, Kate was great and Darcy was just unbelievable tonight. She was everywhere!”
There was one sequence in the 4th quarter where Doran seemingly covered every inch of the court. On the defensive end, she raced from backcourt to the corner to block a three-point attempt, raced to the other end where she grabbed two offensive rebounds on a lengthy Rebels position which fittingly ended with the senior scoring from the low post.
“I really wanted to step up tonight. I mean, I want to every time but tonight just felt like a night where I needed to deliver,” said Doran, who will attend Christian Brothers University in the fall.
Of course, there wasn’t any shortage of fight from the other side.
Independence managed to chip away at a 19-point deficit heading into the 4th quarter, with Haylett scoring five straight points before a Doran put back stalled the rally. The senior was left in the game long enough to drain a late three before leaving the court to a standing ovation from the Franklin High School crowd as Franklin held a 20-point lead.
That margin was trimmed down to the 13-point game-ending differential thanks to another senior who refused to fade away. Daesha McAdams was a welcomed sight back on the Lady Eagles squad after missing the past two games due to an ankle injury, scoring the game’s final seven points.
“It was tough for me to miss these last two games, being the starting point guard for four years,” said McAdams, who will attend Atlanta’s Oglethorpe University in the fall. “My teammates have stepped up in my absence, and tonight coming off the bench I just felt like I had to bring some energy for my teammates.”
That’s a feeling Doran not only shares, but which continues to grow as the season comes closer to the end.
“I guess knowing it’s the last go-round, there’s that need to finish out strong,” admits Doran. “But I don’t just do it for myself. As a team, we just have to keep improving like we are, playing hard every game.”
Rivalry Night Friday puts both teams on the road. Franklin (12-12/6-6 in district) heads to Centennial for part two of the “Battle of Franklin,” while Independence (5-17/3-9) will the hosting Summit Lady Spartans.