Tigers down Samson in regionals, face Lanett next

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 28, 2005

TROY – Luverne's Gary Franklin and Fred Hawkins work so well together it's no surprise that one is going to try and one-up the other.


Franklin's dunk with 1:42 left in the Tigers' 77-67 win over Samson on Monday night in Class 2A Southeast Regionals gave his team a 66-62 lead. One steal later by Jesse Dixon and a pass to Hawkins left the sophomore with a chance to equal his teammate's rim rattling slam.

The ball bounced off the iron.

"I tried," joked Hawkins after the game.

No matter. Dixon was there for the rebound and fed it to Franklin, who slid through the lane for a silky smooth lay-up. He was fouled as well and converted the free throw.

Chased by Samson the entire second half, the Tigers finally started to pull away. Franklin scored the final 13 points of the game for Luverne. He finished with 29 points, one better than Hawkins, who had 28.

Their chemistry, said Luverne head coach Richard Dorsey, is a part of what makes this team good.

"I'm very proud of these guys," he said. "They've been playing together forever, all of them. Especially my starting five. From junior varsity to B-team. When one of them would move up, the other one would also."

The school's first appearance in a regional game since the mid-90s didn't affect his team either, said Dorsey. Neither did playing in a large venue like Troy University's Trojan Arena.

Was he surprised?

"No I wasn't," he said. "We expected to be here and we expected to win tonight. I looked into their eyes in practice and I saw that they were ready to play."

And while Hawkins and Franklin were engaged in a game of 'who-scores-next,' the one doing the dirty work was forward Macklin Burnett. The senior pulled down 23 rebounds, tying an 11-year-old regional record set by Bernard Dunn of Gilmore-Bell for most rebounds in a single game. He was balanced as well, tallying 12 boards on the defensive end and 11 on the offensive glass. He also scored 12 points.

"When we came out I don't think we were as physical as them," said Samson head coach Brent Johnson. "We were missing lay-ups and turning the ball over. Somehow they (Luverne) kept getting in the lane and getting the rebounds. They had a little size advantage on us and their defense plays tough."

For the game, the Tigers outrebounded Samson 58-42.

Johnson's team went 1-of-17 from the field as the Tigers built a 17-3 advantage at the close of the first period.

But Samson fought back in the second, cutting the lead to within striking distance at 35-24 at the half.

"We played zone in the first half and strictly man in the second," said Johnson. "I think that helped us get back into it."

Get back into it they did. The Tigers' lead had been slimmed to 47-44 by the time the third came to a close. Justin Tisdela's three-point shot tied the game and Samson grabbed its first lead of the game soon after on Darrell Marsh's lay-up, 50-49. The lead would change nine times in the final period of play before the Tigers finally held off Samson in the closing minutes.

Marsh had 20 points to lead Samson. Aaron Allen added 18 points and Lindsay Marsch had 10.

Luverne plays Lanett, winners over G.W. Long in the other regional game, on Friday morning for the Southeast Regional championship. Game time is at 10:40 a.m. The winner advances to Birmingham for the Class 2A Final Four.

"They strap on their pants just like us," said Dorsey of Lanett. "We haven't backed down all year long. If they beat us, it's not going to be easy."