Columbia — Eric Franklin’s six steals and 22 points lead the Hickman Kewpies (12-12) to a 69-46 victory over the Smith-Cotton Tigers (10-18) Tuesday night.
The Kewpies increased their defensive pressure in the second half and turned what was only a three-point game at halftime into a 23 point win.
Senior Ben Dierkes credits his team’s defense and Franklin for propelling the Kewpies to a big second half.
“Franklin was huge tonight,” Dierkes said. “His on-ball defensive pressure definitely fuels our team and his offense tonight carried our team to a win.”
Franklin said he was determined to advance to the next round of the district tournament and he knew his defense was going to be the key.
“I put it all on the line tonight,” Franklin said “I just didn’t want this to be the last game of our season.”
Hickman head coach Kenny Ash said good defense is what it takes to advance in a state tournament and play for another day.
“Our defense is really something we have tried to touch on this year and it seems like in the last 11 to 12 games we’ve been playing a little tougher,” Ash said. “Defense isn’t fun to play, but it wins games and the kids have finally bought into that.”
While not over looking Smith-Cotton, Dierkes said the chance of playing Rock Bridge again was in the back of his mind.
“Having a chance to play Rock Bridge again definitely added a little motivation to win,” Dierkes said. “I think we have the athletes to play with them, we just need to play hard for 32 minutes.”
The Kewpies have now won four in a row and eight out of their last 11 games. They will look to continue their winning streak at 6:00 Thursday night in the second round of the district tournament against Rock Bridge at Rock Bridge High School.