DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
No wind and no legs turned into no chance for the Franklin Community High School boys basketball team.
Host Rushville rallied from a nine-point deficit after three quarters to top the Grizzly Cubs 63-56 in the Lion Classic consolation final Wednesday night. The Grizzly Cubs, now 5-2, lost to Mount Vernon (Fortville) 70-53 earlier in the day.
In addition to his team being out of gas physically, Franklin coach Brad Dickey said the Cubs lost focus against Rushville.
“We just ran out of interest,” Dickey said. “We played extremely well at the start of the Mt. Vernon game and extremely well at the start of this game, and it just completely went away. We weren’t getting loose balls or rebounds. We have real good kids and they try very hard. For a stretch of play (against Rushville), they just didn’t have it together.
“We didn’t accomplish things we wanted to accomplish.”
Dickey could tell his players’ energy was gone.
“We stopped bending over to pick up balls,” he said. “That’s something typically we’re really good at.”
The Cubs outscored Rushville (3-6) by six points in each of the first two quarters to lead 34-22 at halftime. Rushville closed the gap to 47-38 after three quarters.
Jaret Sons, a 6-foot-6 senior, started the Lions’ comeback by hitting two 3-pointers in the first minute in the fourth quarter to narrow Franklin’s lead to 49-44.
“We tried to be out on him most of the game and then we didn’t make it out there on him (in the fourth quarter),” Dickey said. “The guys knew it, but it’s hard to guard good players all day long like this.”
Franklin’s senior guard Cameron Smith was fouled on a 3-point shot and hit two of three free throws to boost the lead to 51-46 with 4:59 to go. Rushville followed with a 6-0 run to grab a 52-51 lead.
The Cubs regained the lead at 53-52 on two free throws by Andrew Hartkorn with 3:01 left. But Wesley Green put the Lions ahead for good at 54-53 with two free throws.
Smith converted a three-point play with 37.8 seconds left to cut the deficit to 58-56, but Rushville got a breakaway bucket by Alex Yurack.
Smith, who named to the all-tournament team, led Franklin with 21 points. Hartkorn added 14.
Sons and Yurack each scored 21 points for the Lions. Yurack hit all seven free throws as the Lions sank 15 of 17 from the foul line.
“We got some momentum from those 3s (by Sons) and then we did a really good job of getting the ball in the paint and getting some easy baskets,” Rushville coach Brian Bowen said. “We got to the foul line. When we played well in the second half we played inside-out. Then on the other end we got stops and doing well on defensive glass. We did a better job of closing out and keeping the ball in front of us.”
Bowen said his players did appear to have more bounce in their steps in the final quarter.
“We were half-dead in the morning (in a 78-41 loss to Mooresville),” Bowen said. “We were disappointed in our effort and enthusiasm this morning. That was a lot better and we took more pride in how we played.”
Against Mt. Vernon, Cameron Smith led the Grizzly Cubs with 18 points and Jacob Rockey added 12. Franklin was hurt by hitting just 6 of 13 free-throw attempts. Four players scored in double figures for the Mauraders.
“We executed many, many good plays (Wednesday),” said Dickey, whose team hosts Center Grove on Tuesday. “We definitely had some erroneous plays we can work on and improve.”
Mount Vernon defeated Mooresville 51-50 in the championship game.