WILMINGTON — Senior Taija Walker had a career-high 26 points, Brynn Conley had a huge hustle play late and Auna Hudson made the game-winning free throw as Wilmington closed outs its regular season Saturday with a thrilling 47-46 win over Franklin on Senior Day at Fred Summers Court.

To begin the festivities, Wilmington honored the seniors of Franklin before announcing Walker, its lone senior.

“She’s come so far … I’ve watched her grow up from junior high all the way here to senior year and that girl has grown tremendously,” WHS head coach Zach Williams said. “She works hard, she’s a great person and she cares. I think she speaks about who we want to be as a program through the hard work, determination, and overall grittiness she brings. I’m very proud of her.”

Opening up a back and forth first quarter, the Wildcats struck first with a three-pointer coming from Addie Berry and, on the other end, Brynn Conley knocked down an and-one bucket to counter. After Auna Hudson of the Hurricane and Olivia Truesdell of the Cats traded baskets, Franklin strung together a short 5-0 run.

Thankfully for Wilmington, Addison Martin found herself wide open for a three to keep things from getting out of hand. Afterward, Franklin remained in the lead but some great low post work from Walker allowed it to only to be a 16-12 deficit for WHS entering the second

In the second quarter, the Hurricane began to rely on their senior in a big way. After Truesdell put in another score from three, Walker took over scoring the next eight points of the game to put Wilmington on top 20-19. With Walker going out, though, the Cats scored the next couple of baskets retaking the lead.

The Hurricane big wasn’t out for long, though, as she was put back in and instantly got to work scoring the Hurricane’s next four. Thanks to a late three-pointer and shooting foul as time expired, Franklin held the lead 27-24 entering the second half

“The girls did a great job of feeding (Walker),” Williams said. “She had all 12 points in that quarter. It wasn’t the initial game plan going in but being down Miya (Nance), Kierra Cole, we were down two girls and they didn’t really have a good answer down there for Taija.”

In the third, a Walker basket game WHS a 33-32 lead and forced a Franklin timeout. With just three seconds left, however, Chante Brown was able to put in a strong and one bucket to put WHS back on top 38-37 entering the final quarter.

In the fourth, Walker was sent to the line on a very hard foul and, despite being in clear pain, was able to put both in to go up 45-41. A Berry three was followed by a Walker free throw and the WHS lead was two. Berry evened the score at 46-46.

A Berry steal and potential breakaway basket was thwarted by a hustling Conley who swatted Berry’s shot away. WHS inbounded the ball to Hudson who was fouled with two seconds remaining. She made one of two to give the Hurricane the win.

SUMMARY

Feb 10, 2024

@ Fred Summers Court

Wilmington 47, Franklin 46

F^16^11^10^9^^46

W^12^12^14^9^^47

(47) WILMINGTON (2fg-3fg-ft-tp) Brown 1-0-1-3, A. Martin 0-1-0-3, Hudson 1-0-0-2, Conley 2-0-3-7, E. Martin 1-1-1-6, Bayless 0-0-0-0, Tippett 0-0-0-0, Walker 11-0-4-26, TOTALS 16-1-8-47

(46) FRANKLIN (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Blevins 0-0-0-0, Berry 2-0-1-6, Ken Black 6-2-2-20, Lai Black 0-0-0-0, Shults 0-0-0-0, Truesdell 2-2-2-15, Prickett 0-0-0-0, Wulf 0-0-0-0, Parker 0-1-0-3, Carmack 0-0-0-0, Finton 0-0-0-0 Wahley 0-0-2-2, TOTALS 10-4-8-46