The wait is over.
The Franklin College men’s basketball team is no longer winless.
Franklin halted a nine-game skid with a 66-65 win Saturday against visiting Wabash College.
The Grizzlies (1-9) couldn’t have asked for a better gift heading into the holiday break.
“I so wanted them to leave for Christmas with a win under their belt,” Franklin coach Kerry Prather said. “The long and the short of it is, these kids have deserved a win in the last two weeks and had come so close. What we honestly needed was a bounce, a call and a little sliver of luck to go with all the hard work.”
The Grizzlies got all of the above in their thrilling win against Wabash.
“The thing I’ve come to appreciate about these guys who are so young, they’re learning everything on the fly,” Prather said. “First, we had to learn how to play, and we’ve had to learn how to win in close situations. What I’ve seen all along is good talent in great kids.
“What I love about this team and I will gladly live with the scars of their inexperience is that there’s great chemistry, great work ethic and they all want to get a lot better.”
After trailing by 13 points in the first half, the Grizzlies closed the gap with a 10-0 run, highlighted by a halftime buzzer-beating fast break layup by sophomore Brandon Scruggs. Wabash led 36-33 at the half.
Franklin carried the momentum into the second half, opening it with a 7-2 spurt that gave it its first lead at 40-38.
But the Little Giants (5-3) stormed back to retake the lead, 47-42.
From that point on, baskets by sophomore guard Aaron Mann coupled with the inside play of forwards Jim Mace, Brett McCory and John Beineke kept Franklin in contention until the final buzzer.
In all, the game had seven ties and 13 lead changes.
What proved to be the winning bucket – with nearly four minutes to play — was a put-back by 6-foot-7 sophomore Cody Federmann off of a missed shot down the lane by Mann for the final score of the game.
Franklin’s defense did the rest, holding Wabash scoreless over the final 3:52. The Little Giants attempted only one shot during that stretch and missed three free throws.
First-year Wabash coach Kyle Brumett, who previously coached at Defiance, a member of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, pointed to 13 turnovers that hurt his team.
“It’s disappointing, but Franklin is a good program, and this was a good test for both schools,” Brumett said. “You have to tip your hat to them. Our guys are hurting and frustrated, but that’s part of growing up and what makes playing this game worth it.”
Franklin had four players in double figures, with Mann leading the way with 15 points. Mace had 12, while Scruggs added 11 and junior Trae Washington tossed in 10 to go with seven assists.
Wabash senior Kasey Oetting finished with a season-best 18 points.
Following the Christmas break, the Grizzlies (1-9) return to action Jan. 3 against visiting HCAC rival Earlham.