Franklin Community boys basketball coach Brad Dickey was understandably proud of the way his team performed in the second half Friday night.
He just wishes he felt the same way about the first two quarters.
After winning their first four Mid-State Conference games, the Grizzly Cubs lost to host Martinsville 76-63 to fall to 10-4 overall.
Leading by as many as 25 points late in the second stanza, the Artesians hung on for dear life as Franklin scrapped back to pull as close as six points on two occasions (66-60 and 68-62).
Martinsville (11-4, 3-1) made good on 8 of 10 free throws inside the final 26.6 seconds to keep the Cubs at a safe distance.
“We had a really nice rally there that was fun for our team. You’ve got to learn from something like that where if our intensity in the first half would have been better maybe we would have been in this game,” said Dickey.
“We got sort of shell-shocked by some good shooters and some good ball players. Martinsville did a great job, and we were disappointed in our matchups and rotations in the first half. But then again, they made those shots.”
Lots and lots of shots.
The Artesians converted 15 of 24 field-goal tries (.625) in the first half compared to Franklin managing only 7 of 20 shooting (.350) prior to intermission.
“I thought we came out with a tremendous amount of focus and competed well at both ends. We had a good rhythm to the game, and I think that just carried us through the first half,” said Artesians coach Kip Staggs, the former Franklin athletics director.
“We got off to a little bit of a rocky start in the third quarter, but were kind of able to keep our distance. Credit Franklin. They came back and made a run there in the fourth quarter and really played hard. But we were able to make some free throws down the stretch.”
The Grizzly Cubs placed four players in double-figures, led by senior guard Cameron Smith’s 14 points. Backcourt mate Bryce Wentzell played a major role in his team’s rally with the senior scoring 11 of his 13 after halftime.
Starting forward Hunter Gross and reserve swingman Justin Beasley each tallied 10 in a losing effort with senior forward Jarrett Bertsch collecting a team-high six rebounds for Franklin.
Martinsville also demonstrated good balance.
Senior guard Logan Ratts led all scorers with 18 points, Zach Anderson chipped in 17 and burly senior post Josh Bertelsen 13. Senior guard Tim Bowlen contributed 11 points in the win with forward Dylan Bales coming off the bench for four points and a game-high seven boards.
The Grizzly Cubs never once led, falling behind 5-0 at the outset and finding themselves in an 18-6 hole through one period of play.
Three of the Artesians’ five first-half 3-pointers were in the second stanza as they upped the spread to as many as 25 points (36-11) once Bertelsen delivered a three-point sequence with 1:44 remaining until halftime.
Martinsville finished with a slight edge in rebounding, 23-22. Both teams fared well from the free throw stripe with Franklin going 16 of 22 compared to the home team’s 18 of 21.
Neither team can dwell on what transpired as both are in action again tonight.
Franklin returns home to play Southport and 6-foot-10 Indiana Mr. Basketball hopeful Joey Brunk. Martinsville makes the long trek to the west side of Indianapolis to face Ben Davis.