For the Daily Journal
At last, a lineup any coach would be happy with.
During the past nine games, Franklin College second-year coach Dana Haggenjos has been searching for a reliable and productive starting lineup.
The Grizzlies (5-5, 3-1) delivered just that and added significant strength off the bench to give Franklin a 59-41 victory against visiting Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference rival Manchester (3-9, 2-3) on Wednesday night.
“Defensively, our energy was better and we added a new defense last week. I also thought we were quick on the ball today,” Haggenjos said.
“I think we had a good game plan and executed it nicely. Offensively, we looked at the basket, which in the last few games we hadn’t been looking at the basket, so it was a great change of pace and it really got some of our shooters going.”
From start to finish, the Grizzlies were aggressive on defense and on offense their ball movement was crisp and precise. That combination elevated the team’s profile in a big way.
Franklin used 11 players in the opening quarter, finishing with a 15-11 lead.
Senior starters Emily Alfrey and shooting guard Mandy Fisher were exceptional on defense.
Alfrey clogged the middle, and Fisher was especially good closing the passing lanes, leading to 10 steals in the opening half.
Franklin opened the second period with a pair of 3-pointers by senior guard Lauren DeSutter, and junior Riley Achenbach added a triple of her own to up the Grizzlies’ lead to 26-13.
Franklin stayed with its up-tempo offense and kept its players fresh by rotating players in and out. Manchester had no answer and the Grizzlies took a 31-18 lead to the break.
Although their offense slowed in the second half, the Grizzlies’ relentless defense kept the Manchester in check the rest of the way.
The second half turned into a parade to the free throw line. Franklin was tagged with 28 personal fouls and Manchester had 26.
The Grizzlies outrebounded the Spartans 39-34.
DeSutter, the Grizzlies’ leading scorer this season, finished with a game-high 17 points, including 7 of 7 at the stripe, despite sitting the entire fourth quarter. Achenbach and senior forward Sarah Taylor each had eight points.
Senior center Amber May also had a good game off the bench with seven points and seven rebounds.
By game’s end, Franklin had 16 players log minutes.