Third-quarter issues hurt as Cubs drop league game

For the Daily Journal

MOORESVILLE

A third-quarter scoring surge by Mooresville broke open a tight game and gave the host Pioneers a 54-45 win against Franklin in girls basketball play Friday night.

Franklin’s inability to score in the third, coupled with trouble at the foul line throughout the evening, contributed to its demise.

Except for the first quarter, when there were no free-throw attempts, the Cubs missed at least three freebies a quarter and 13 total — all of which would have made a difference.

Asked if the Cubs would be doing extra practice on free throws, Franklin coach Josh Sabol smiled and nodded.

“Ah, yes,” he said. “It came down to two factors — those free throws and turnovers. We take care of the ball and we hit the free throws, and who knows what the result could have been. But I was happy with the way the girls shot the ball from the field and how they scrapped and fought for rebounds and loose balls.”

Franklin came out firing. The Cubs hit on four 3-point shots in the first half, three of them by senior Delanie Hill.

There was a cooling off period in the second quarter, but some of that hustle that Sabol cited and some over-aggressiveness by the Pioneers kept the score close. Franklin had a one-point edge at halftime, 22-21.

Enter the third quarter.

In that fateful frame, Mooresville outscored the Cubs 17-4, but Franklin didn’t go down though without a fight.

Down 10 with three minutes to go, the Cubs cut the lead to six, forcing the Pioneers into six second-half turnovers that also could have turned the game around.

But six missed free throws in those final minutes assured that the Cubs weren’t going to win.

Franklin was led by Hill’s 15 points. Allison Barnard added 10.

Franklin (10-8, 2-2 Mid-State Conference), which saw a two-game winning streak ended, hasn’t beaten the Pioneers in nine years, taking a 48-45 win back on Jan. 4, 2006, when all of the current Grizzly Cubs were still in elementary school.

“(Mooresville) is a class program and one of the best in the state,” Sabol said. “But like I said, I was proud of how the girls fought. We still have some work to do to get to the next level.”

Up next for Franklin is a tough home game Tuesday against 12th-ranked Columbus North.

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Ken Severson is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal.