Cubs end regular season on high note

In the final home boys basketball game for six Franklin Community High School seniors, the newest member of the group provided arguably the biggest spark.

Cameron Rigley, who transferred to Franklin before his junior year, made an immediate impact. On Friday night, he put an exclamation point on his efforts thus far, coming off the bench to score 16 points and help the host Grizzly Cubs to a 71-54 win against Jennings County in the regular-season finale.

Rigley was far from Franklin’s only big contributor — teammate and fellow senior Andrew Hartkorn led the Cubs’ scoring effort with 18 points — but his points seemed to be backbreakers for the visiting Panthers. His 3-pointer with 3:55 left in the first quarter gave Franklin the lead for good (9-7), then he drained a pair of spot-up threes in the second half, when the Cubs outscored Jennings County 25-12 and took control of the game.

His 3-pointer in the third quarter completed an 8-0 Franklin run that erased any doubt to the outcome. It built a 56-32 Cubs lead with 1:11 to play in the period.

“It meant a lot to get those opportunities,” Rigley said. “When I came here, we bonded really well. I knew Jarrett (Bertsch) and Bryce (Wentzell) from AAU ball, and they did a really good job of having me meet everyone and making me feel welcome.”

Rigley and his teammates’ aggressive, trapping man-to-man defense gave the Panthers (8-14) fits all night. They finished with 21 turnovers to the Cubs’ 11, which helped account for Franklin’s 10 extra field-goal tries. The Cubs hit 26 of 52 from the floor (50 percent), and shot 57.7 percent (15 of 26) in the first half.

Cameron Smith, another senior, finished with 14 points, while fellow senior Jarrett Bertsch added eight. Senior Justin Beasley grabbed a team-high six rebounds to go with three points.

All nine Franklin players who entered play before Franklin coach Brad Dickey emptied the bench in the fourth quarter scored.

Franklin’s lead swelled to 65-36 with 5:28 to play before Dickey took the seniors out of the game one by one, each receiving ovations from the crowd.

“We’ve had good cooperation and intensity from these seniors, and they’ve been important to this program,” Dickey said. “They’ve earned the positive things that have come to them. The underclassmen have supported the guys.”

“We’re happy with those numbers,” Dickey said of Franklin’s 16-6 record, matching the 2013-14 total as the most wins by a Cubs team since 1998. “Getting a share of the (Mid-State) Conference is a neat deal, and we have some hope in the sectional. We’re an underdog, but we’re an underdog with some teeth.”

Franklin drew the bye in the Class 4A Martinsville Sectional and will play the Center Grove-Whiteland winner at 6 p.m. next Friday.

Tyler Vogel led Jennings County with 15 points, while Justin Pettit added 12.

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Adam Wire is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal.