Over the course of the last decade, Franklin High School girls basketball has been among the best of the best in New Jersey.
The Lady Warriors have won two NJSIAA Tournament of Champions titles the last four years and have four Group 4 championships since 2014-15. Last season, they went 24-5 and reached the Group 4 final for the third straight season, but it never happened due to the season being abruptly cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This winter, Franklin will be without three key players in twins Keona and Kennady Schenck in addition to Onoseta Ufuah. They were vital in the team’s success a year ago as Franklin, which ended the year ranked No. 12 by NJ.com, dealt with injuries. Keona Schenck ranks inside the top five in program history in points, field goals made, 3-pointers made, free-throws, offensive rebounds, and assists and is first in steals with 400 even. Kennedy Schenck is also in the top five in 3-pointers.
Both are now at UIC.
Kyierah Dempsey-Toney, now a senior, is one to watch as she averaged 7.6 points for the Lady Warriors in 2019-20. The 6-foot-1 forward had 187 total points, 221 rebounds, an impressive 66 blocks, 38 steals, and 11 assists in all 29 games.
Christina Midgette missed all of last season a year ago, but she saw big minutes as a freshman. She’s worked extremely hard to get back, and she has all the potential to be a force. In 2018-19, Midgette produced 245 points, 196 rebounds, 38 assists, 36 steals, and 20 blocks in just her rookie campaign.
Morgan Jones and Erica Jackson also are back. Jones saw action in all 29 games and recorded 70 points, 56 rebounds, but her main contributions came on assists (32) and steals (59). Jackson had 42 points, 44 boards, 12 assists, 13 steals, and seven blocks.
Two promising newcomers include Iyanna Cotten and Tiffany Pecorella.
A few players did opt out.
Coach Audrey Taylor, who is 215-75 since taking over in 2010-11, said that no set starting lineup has been set, but there’s a good chance that Dempsey-Toney, Midgett, Jones, and Jackson will at least be four of the five.
Like in the past, Franklin will take it one day at a time and the focus will be on “developing a team that plays together and competes hard every game” per Taylor. The Warriors will utilize defensive pressure and use their speed to get up and down the court in transition.
Just like a year ago because of the pandemic, there will be no state tournament. That means Franklin’s push for a fifth straight North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 title will be put on hold.
Franklin will play 12 games during the regular season and then have a chance to play and win something in a newly-formed Skyland Conference Tournament which keeps competition even more localized. A committee will break up all the teams and form separate brackets based on size of school and competitiveness. The Warriors and every other team in the league will get a chance at three more games.
Right now, the Lady Warriors’ first game will be at home on Tuesday, Jan. 26 against Hillsborough at 6:00 p.m. No fans are allowed.
The teams will be adjusting to new rules and protocol such as wearing masks on the bench and social distancing between one another to keep everybody safe.
For the full schedule, click here.
Watch the livestreams on YouTube.
Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisNalwasky.
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