Minus Frankie, Darlington still cruises past Manning
By Drake Horton
In its first home game of the New Year, there was a big first for the Darlington Falcons. For the first time in five years the Falcons took the court without Frankie Johnson and while there were some differences, there was still that glaring similarity; Darlington won.
“It was different,” Darlington boys head coach Ken Howle said, describing what it was like to play a game without Frankie and how his team responded. “I’m proud of our guys though.”
Darlington squared off against the Manning Monarchs on Tuesday, January 12 in front of home crowd who had not seen their Falcons play at home since December 15 when the Falcons took on the Lamar Silver Foxes and delivered with an impressive 69-53 victory.
With Frankie sidelined with a broken hand, Darlington spread the wealth amongst its entire roster showing the rest of the state that this is not just a one man show, but a complete team that is more than capable of not only competing for the 3A state championship, but winning it.
Marquis Green, who for the last three years has burned so many teams with his quickness and sharpshooting talents, led the Falcons in scoring with 17 points while Donavan Johnson, who might be one of the best stretch forwards in the state, showed off his ability to play in the paint all while shooting the three-pointer like we know he can.
“All of us had to step up since we were down a player,” Donavan, who was second in scoring with 12 points, said. “Coach said everybody had to contribute, just get a little piece of what he does, so I had to step in and take that role.”
The bigger surprise for Darlington against Manning was how the Falcons controlled the paint down in the low post.
It is not that Darlington is weak down low; it is just that for the last two years that has not been the Falcons game.
Starting last year, the Falcons began living and dying by the three and rode that philosophy all the way to the lower-state championship and with everybody returning Darlington has been right back at it this season.
But with Frankie out and obviously something that was noticed on film by the coaches, Darlington attacked down low and was successful on multiple occasions as Isaac Simmons finished the night third in scoring with 11 points while Sa’von Williams led the team in rebounds with 14.
“Sa’von was a beast on the boards,” Howle said, giving his junior forward props on his dominance on the glass against the Monarchs.
Darlington’s lead grew at the end of each quarter as the Falcons were up by eight points after the first, 10 after the second, 11 after the third and 16 at the end of the game.