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'This is the end': Golden Valley's weapons stymied by bigger, faster Franklin

SACRAMENTO -- Donte Scott can't believe he won't have to show up to basketball practice today.

His season over, the Golden Valley senior had a difficult time dealing with the pain of a 74-47 loss to Elk Grove Franklin in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinals on Thursday night at Arco Arena.

"It's real tough," said Scott, with tears ready to drop from his eyes. "It's back to reality for me. I'm going to miss these guys so much. They're like my family.

"Nobody expected us to get this far. We expected to win the section championship."

Seventh-seeded Franklin (23-7) ran away from No. 3 Golden Valley early.

Golden Valley struggled in just about every way it could against a bigger, quicker opponent.

Senior John Sykes was able to carry Golden Valley in its quarterfinal win over a similar team in Sheldon at the University of the Pacific on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-4 senior couldn't turn in another super performance.

Playing Franklin was like playing three or four Sykes at once.

"It was a lot like that," said Golden Valley coach Keith Hunter, whose team finished the season with a 25-5 record. "They were tall and athletic and they were a lot more aggressive than we were.

"They put us on our heels and we usually want to be the team that does that."

After a quick start that saw Alex Fletcher connect on a couple 3-pointers to give GV an 8-5 lead, Franklin took control.

Franklin did it by going straight to the basket.

Ryan Sypkens attacked the rim, scoring 18 of his 22 points in the first half. The Franklin senior guard made 9 of 11 shots in the game.

"Everyone in the house knew they were going to the rim," Hunter said. "To win a game like this, sometimes you need to step in front of a freight train. We didn't do it. They beat us. That's all you can say."

Meanwhile, Golden Valley went ice cold.

Hunter's boys made just 6 of 25 shots in the first half and compounded their shooting problems with 15 turnovers.

"(Franklin) is bigger and they definitely took it to us," said Fletcher, who finished with a team-high 13 points. "I said Sheldon was the biggest team we faced all year. Franklin was probably the biggest all-around team we played."

Franklin started the second quarter with a 17-5 run to extend its lead to 35-18. The lead ballooned to 20 points by halftime.

Golden Valley could only cut the lead to 14 in the second half, but never seriously threatened to get back into the game.

Golden Valley's big three of Fletcher, Sykes and Scott were held to just 31 points.

Franklin advances to Saturday's section title game against top seed Folsom, which defeated Merced 67-50 in the other semifinal game.

Golden Valley's season is over.

"You don't want it be over," Fletcher said. "You put so much work and time into it. It doesn't seem real."

It's not easy on Hunter, either.

Especially when he has to say good-bye to two three-year starters in Sykes and Fletcher.

"It's hard every year," Hunter said. "When you make the playoffs, your season is going to end in a loss unless you win a state championship.

"That's just the way it is. It's tough because I'm going to miss guys like John and Alex. They're great kids. They've been the face of Golden Valley the last three years and they've been great players during that time."

FRANKLIN 74,

GOLDEN VALLEY 47

At Arco Arena

Franklin 18 23 15 18 -- 74

Golden Valley 13 8 15 11 -- 47

FRANKLIN -- Garrett Rawlings 7, Christian Shaw 17, Amir Carraway 8, Ryan Sypkens 22, Sahil Dogra 3, Iroegbu Chukwuemeka 8, Anthony King 7, Theo Johnson 2. Totals: 30 10-14 74.

GOLDEN VALLEY -- Donte Scott 9, John Sykes 9, Alex Fletcher 13, Garrett Hill 4, Richard Thomas 8, Robert Martinez 1. Totals: 17 6-17 47.

3-pointers: Franklin 4 (Rawlings 2, Sypkens 2), Golden Valley 7 (Fletcher 3, Wootten 2, Scott 1, Thomas 1); Team Fouls: Franklin 18, Golden Valley 18; Fouled Out - None.

Records: Franklin 23-7; Golden Valley 25-5.

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