DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
Whiteland had lost five straight boys basketball games to Franklin entering Friday’s Mid-State Conference showdown.
The host Warriors, led by sharpshooting Tom Purdie, made sure that streak ended emphatically.
Purdie didn’t miss a shot all night, connecting on all 10 of his field-goal tries en route to a game-high 26 points. His teammates combined to produce three more double-figure scorers in an 82-70 Whiteland victory.
The Warriors’ last win against the Grizzly Cubs was Jan. 21, 2011, when Purdie was in seventh grade. He said he was happy to end the skid but equally happy to earn a conference victory.
The win improved Whiteland to 7-7 overall but kept the Warriors unbeaten (3-0) in league play, tied with Martinsville for first place. Franklin fell to 5-9 overall and 2-2 in the conference.
“(The rivalry) is always in the back of your head; they’ve got a good program,” Purdie said of Franklin. “We worked hard all week, and we worked hard to get every basket.”
It didn’t look difficult much of the time Friday.
Whiteland shot 58.5 percent from the floor (31 of 53) and 80 percent from the free-throw line (12 of 15). Even without Purdie’s perfect shooting night, the Warriors still shot 21 of 43 from the floor.
He had plenty of help offensively as well. Michael Valle scored 16 points, hitting 6 of 10 from the floor, while Terr’e Moss added 14 points and Will Higdon scored 10 for Whiteland. The Warriors committed just five turnovers.
“We were in attack mode,” Whiteland coach Matt Wadsworth said. “We spaced the floor well, moved the ball well and we were unselfish. I like the way this team’s gelling.”
Franklin also executed well offensively, shooting 52.8 percent from the floor (28 of 53) and committing just 10 turnovers. The Grizzly Cubs led 14-13 with 2:15 remaining in the first quarter, but Whiteland scored the period’s final eight points, on a Moss 3-pointer, an Aaron Eblen 3-point play and a Bryce Staker put-back basket at the buzzer, to take a 21-14 lead.
The Cubs closed the gap to 28-26 with 4:23 left in the first half, but Whiteland responded with a 7-0 run to take a 35-26 edge, and never led by less than seven after that.
Cameron Smith led Franklin with 21 points and six rebounds, while Andrew Hartkorn added 12 points and Jacob Rockey scored 10. Cameron Rigley added nine points off the bench on three 3-pointers for the Grizzly Cubs.
“They’re heavier and taller than we are, so we’ve got to work that line of support and stay home (defensively),” Franklin coach Brad Dickey said. “When you don’t, that leads to 82 points. We had a couple of bad possessions (late in the first quarter), they hit shots, and just like that, you’re down seven or eight.
“Our turnover numbers were good, but we’ve got a small margin of error.”
Franklin plays again tonight at New Palestine. Whiteland is off until next Friday, when it plays at conference rival Mooresville.