With the return of eight letter winners, including six seniors, experience promises to be a strength for the Franklin boys basketball team.

And while he is cautiously optimistic about the Grizzly Cubs, second-year coach Brad Dickey knows they must overcome a lack of height and quickly find a replacement for graduated interior defender Nik Welch.

“We have a great group here that is capable of playing at a fast pace,” said Dickey, whose team was 10-14 last season. “They work together and are very selfless, which will help us be able to screen, run plays, defend and rebound.

“But I do have to admit, I think about the lack of height every day.”

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Franklin’s roster features no player taller than 6-foot-3, a challenge that last season’s squad successfully addressed.

“We had a great win road win at Mooresville last year when they were ranked in the top 16, and we also beat Roncalli and Columbus North when they were in the top 25,” Dickey said. “Last season, we were starting out brand new, but now we have experienced athletes that have a good background.”

Senior Cameron Smith is the Cubs’ top returning offensive weapon. The 6-2 guard averaged 17 points, four rebounds and 2.5 assists per game as a junior.

“Cameron is very important to this team in many ways,” Dickey said. “He’s now better prepared to have balance on offense and defense.”

Franklin’s other notable returning scorers are senior Andrew Hartkorn (9.4 points, 4.3 rebounds per game), senior Cameron Rigley (7.1 points per game) and senior Bryce Wentzell (6.3 points per game).

Senior forwards Justin Beasley and Jarrett Bertsch also are back, along with junior guards Jacob Rockey and Austin Terrell.

“Rigley is a good scorer, while Wentzell and Rockey are greatly improved point guards,” Dickey said. “Their decision making and play making abilities have really grown.

“Bertsch and Beasley are versatile players both offensively and defensively.”

Dickey also is enthused about varsity newcomers 6-3 junior forward Hunter Gross, 6-1 junior guard Tyler Craft, 6-3 sophomore forward Nate Sellers and 5-10 freshman guard Reece Thomson.

“Gross saw limited varsity action last year,” Dickey said. “He and Hartkorn have a good relationship for around the rim.

“We’re getting strong contributions from our newcomers, and I’m excited to work with them.

“As a team, we just want to play really hard and have fun,” Dickey continued. “I would love to improve on 10 wins, but right now I’m thinking more in terms of how many daily goals we can accomplish.”

At a glance



Dec. 4;at Decatur Central;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 5;Seymour;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 11;Greenwood;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 12;at Hauser;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 15;Center Grove;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 19;Shelbyville;8 p.m.

Dec. 30;Rushville Tournament;TBA

Jan. 5;Center Grove;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 9;Mooresville;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 12;County;TBA

Jan. 22;Whiteland;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 23;New Palestine;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 29;at Martinsville;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 30;Southport;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 4;at Brown County;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 9;at Columbus North;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 13;at Columbus East;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 16;at Roncalli;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 19;at Plainfield;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 23;Perry Meridian;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 26;Jennings County;7:30 p.m.

Greg Seiter is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal.