For the Daily Journal
Much to the dismay of the Franklin College men’s basketball team, the story has been pretty much the same throughout the season.
It goes something like this — the Grizzlies fall behind, make a spirited comeback to pull ahead, then falter in the end.
It happened again Saturday at the Spurlock Center, when the visiting Bluffton Beavers defeated Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference rival Franklin, 86-84.
Meanwhile, in then second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, Bluffton’s women rallied from a 25-24 halftime deficit to defeat the Grizzlies, 64-55.
After battling back from a 12-point deficit in the second half and eventually taking a 79-76 lead, the Franklin men could not close the door in the end.
For the most part, Bluffton (10-6, 3-6) rode the shoulders of senior guard Austin Rhode, who scored a game-high 29 points.
But with the score tied at 84-84, it was senior Trey Elchert who hit a step-back 15-foot jumper to win it as time expired.
While Rhode and Elchert had prominent roles in the Beavers’ victory, sophomore forward Jared Wentling was equally impressive, totaling 24 points to go with 14 rebounds.
Senior guard Aaron Mann topped the Grizzlies with 23 points and freshman Braxton Day added 17.
The Grizzlies (4-12, 1-8) will be home against Manchester on Wednesday.
Franklin women’s coach Dana Haggenjos, as she has done most of the season, continues to search for the most effective player rotations. In all, 14 players saw action Saturday for the Grizzlies (7-9, 5-5).
Franklin ran off to a fast start, leading 16-12 at the end of the first period, and created its biggest edge at 22-15 on a pair of free throws by senior guard Lauren DeSutter.
But in the second half, Bluffton went on a 12-4 run fueled by the inside play of senior center Rachel Beining to lead at the end of three, 45-39.
Beining, who a week ago reached the 1,000 point-mark in her career, finished with 18 points. Junior Macey Sheerer added 19 for the winners.
For Franklin, senior center Emily Alfrey came off the bench to score a game-high 21 points.
The Grizzlies travel to HCAC rival Manchester on Wednesday.