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Benford's 17 points leads East Franklin past Tharptown

By Staff
Scot Beard
RED BAY – The East Franklin ninth grade boys team opened the 2009 Franklin County Junior High Basketball Tournament in impressive fashion Monday by cruising to a 46-27 victory against Tharptown.
Both teams struggled in the early minutes of the game before the flood gates opened, allowing the Rebels to jump out to an impressive lead early.
"I was (surprised). The way we started neither team scored, then things started falling for us," said East Franklin coach Ryan Swinney. "This was probably as good as we've played."
Kelby Hallmark opened the scoring, giving Tharptown an early 2-0 lead. East Franklin's Brady Whitten hit a free throw to cut the deficit in half before Skeeter Benford gave the Rebels the lead for good.
Benford was the leading scorer in the game, recording 17 points for East Franklin.
Tharptown's Kent Allen hit a free throw for the Wildcat's final point of the first quarter, but the Rebels closed out the quarter on a 7-0 run to take a 12-3 advantage.
Hallmark opened the second quarter scoring, but East Franklin responded by scoring seven unanswered points and built a 25-9 lead by halftime.
The Rebels continued to play strong defense after the break, holding the Wildcats to nine points in the third quarter. Tharptown added another nine points in the final quarter, but it was too little as the Rebels held on for the win.
Allen led the Wildcats with 13 points, most of which came from behind the 3-point line as he sank three shots from beyond the arc.
Hallmark also reached double-digit scoring with 10 points while Cody Cagle added two points and Bradley McCafferty scored one point for Tharptown.
Rick Miller was second on the scoring list for East Franklin with nine points and Brent Miller was third with eight points.
Also scoring for the Rebels were Brady Whitten (5), Cory Potter (4), Christian Garcia (2) and Evan Reeves (2).
With the win East Franklin advances to the semifinals where it will face Belgreen at 4:45 p.m. Saturday at Red Bay High School.
"We played Belgreen the first game of the season and haven't played them since," said Swinney. "I think we can play better than we did the first time."