DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
Franklin finally got its offensive game in sync while Greenwood couldn’t keep it together at the free-throw line Friday in the second half of their Johnson County Girls Basketball Tournament clash.
The result: A 40-39 come-from-behind victory for the Grizzly Cubs in the first of Friday’s semifinals in Whiteland’s Glenn Ray Gymnasium.
Sophomore Allison Barnard scored all 10 of her points in the fourth quarter, including the game-winning basket on a clutch put-back play with just 12 seconds left, to lift the Cubs to a 3-1 record and a spot in tonight’s championship contest.
Barnard’s 10 late points — all in a substitute role — were one more than the Cubs produced the entire first half.
“She played like a warrior,” Franklin coach Walt Raines said. “She’s a hard-nosed kid and came out and went after the bucket.
“When she goes to the bucket, she’s hard to stop.”
Greenwood (2-1), which defeated Franklin (3-1) twice last season, appeared to be on its way to remaining unbeaten on the young season in the opening half.
The Woodmen led by as many as 14 points at 21-7 on a basket by senior Madeline Wolf late in the first quarter.
But to say Greenwood struggled at the foul line after halftime would be quite an understatement.
Coupled with the Cubs’ renewed intensity, the Woodmen’s lead was gradually whittled away when they were able to hit just two of 17 free throws after halftime, including only 2 of 13 in the fourth period.
“I felt like our kids battled hard. We held them to nine points in the first half,” a disappointed Greenwood coach Debbie Guckenberger said. “We had to play a lot of inexperienced kids at the end, but we just didn’t hit enough free throws, and it was the story of the game.”
Though neither team shot particularly well from the floor — Greenwood shot 33.3 percent and Franklin 27.9 percent — or at the line, and both squads combined for 32 turnovers, the closing minutes of the game still proved to be compelling.
Especially considering the Woodmen had three starters foul out in the fourth quarter. One of them was their leading scorer, junior guard Holly Hoopingarner.
In the final six minutes, sophomore reserve Taylor Walker gave Greenwood a six-point lead at 31-25 on a jump shot, but Barnard counted with her first two buckets to pull Franklin to within two points.
Senior Julia Smith cut the Woodmen’s lead to one with a free throw, but Greenwood answered with a big basket-and-one following a strong offensive rebound by junior starter Megan Overton before she fouled out.
In the last four minutes, Barnard scored twice more to keep Franklin within two.
The Cubs took their first lead of the night at 38-37 on a huge 3-point basket by junior guard Maci Eads, but Greenwood junior Maddy Renfro came right back with a short jumper with 31 seconds remaining.
After Barnard tallied her go-ahead basket, Renfro let loose with a 3-point shot just before the buzzer that looked good, but it didn’t go.
“In the first half we came out with no emotion for the county tournament, so we discussed that a little at the half,” Raines said. “In the second half we played with some fire and had some gutsy performances from the kids.
“I thought both teams tried to give it back to each other at the free-throw line, but give Deb’s kids some credit. When Hoopingarner went out, her kids didn’t give up.”
Hoopingarner led Greenwood with 10 points, matching Barnard’s total. Overton added nine for the Woodmen.
Sophomore guard Delanie Hill chipped in eight points for Franklin, all at the free throw line.
Franklin plays defending champion Center Grove in tonight’s 7:30 title game at Whiteland. Greenwood will face Whiteland in the third-place game at 6 p.m.