Coming off a pair of disappointing losses at the Rushville Tournament six days earlier, Franklin’s boys basketball team looked to rebound Tuesday night.
And rebound the Grizzly Cubs did — 27 times.
Winning the battle of the glass against county rival Center Grove helped coach Brad Dickey’s team score a hard-fought 57-52 victory.
Senior forward Andrew Hartkorn secured game honors in points with 18 and boards with 10 for the Cubs, while 6-foot-2 senior guard Jarrett Bertsch provided 15 points as Franklin improved its record to 6-2.
Not an especially pretty game — the teams combined for 30 turnovers and 16 missed free throws — Franklin outscored the Trojans 10-6 during the final 3:46.
“Center Grove does a great job of being physical on cuts and screens, and our kids kind of stood up to that and accomplished a few of our team goals to penetrate the ball. It was just a good steady effort from our team,” Dickey said.
“I did feel like we competed inside. We threw the ball to each other in the post. Cameron Rigley got a couple of great post feeds that made a big difference for our team.”
Hartkorn scored all but three of his points in the first half, then left it up to Bertsch, who tallied all but three of his total in the second half.
Center Grove did a nice job of clamping down defensively on Franklin’s leading scorer all season, 6-1 senior swingman Cameron Smith, who finished with seven points.
Nonetheless, the Grizzly Cubs shared the basketball, received points from eight different players and picked up the win.
“Usually Center Grove is a big opponent for us. Since we didn’t play so well last time we had to make up for it with a win tonight, so we came out and played hard,” Bertsch said.
“Down the stretch it was our free throws. We made the ones we needed to and we played good defense to not allowing them to hit as many ‘3’s as they wanted to.”
Senior guard Trevor Harrell finished as Center Grove’s leading scorer with 12 points. Sophomore guard Nate McLain added nine and Bryce Brown eight for the Trojans (4-5).
Hartkorn dominated the first half with 15 points and six rebounds as the Grizzly Cubs settled in with a 27-24 advantage at intermission.
The first half also included two ties and nine different occasions when a single point separated the teams.
Center Grove scored seven consecutive points near the end of the opening stanza to pull ahead 13-9 until senior guard Bryce Wentzell swished a high-arcing 3-pointer from the right wing at the horn.
Eight of Hartkorn’s points came in the second period. Smith’s drive to the basket off a Trojans turnover at the 2:59 mark gave Franklin its biggest advantage at 25-19.
Harrell, benched much of the first half after picking up two quick fouls, returned to the floor and converted a triple to cut his team’s deficit in half.
Hartkorn responded with another hoop in close for a 27-22 Cubs lead, but Trojans senior Drew Conrad made a nice pivot move in close for a bucket at 13.2 to conclude the scoring.
Both Center Grove and Franklin were guilty of 10 first-half turnovers.
Both teams play conference opponents this weekend.
Center Grove attempts to pick up its first Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference victory Friday night at Carmel. Franklin is off until Saturday night when it hosts Mooresville.
The Trojans and Grizzly Cubs then take part in the annual Johnson County Tournament. First-round games are Jan. 12, with semifinals scheduled for Jan. 15 at Indian Creek High School.