Tough stretch run continues for Cubs

Martinsville’s girls basketball team was among the favorites to win last season’s Class 4A girls basketball sectional at Center Grove, but an upstart Franklin team knocked the Artesians out of the tourney in the opening round.

Playing for another championship Tuesday night, visiting Martinsville made sure history didn’t repeat itself.

The Artesians dominated the second and third quarters, outscoring the host Grizzly Cubs 32-9 during that time. That was more than enough to offset Franklin’s more competitive play in the first and fourth quarters, leading to a 66-37 Martinsville win.

The Artesians improved to 17-4 overall and clinched the outright Mid-State Conference championship in the process, completing league play with a 6-0 record. Franklin, in the midst of a tough stretch of its schedule, fell to 10-12 overall and finished conference play at 2-4.

The Cubs have lost five straight to high-quality opposition, with setbacks against Mooresville, Columbus North, Perry Meridian, Whiteland and Martinsville.

Franklin trailed just 12-9 with 4:07 to play in the first quarter, but Martinsville scored the next nine points to build a 21-9 edge with 1:46 left in the period. Overall, the Artesians outscored the Grizzly Cubs 49-19 from 4:07 in the first quarter until six minutes remained in the game.

Martinsville used an aggressive, trapping defense that included man-to-man and 1-3-1 zone at times, and forced the Cubs into 18 turnovers. Franklin hit four of its first five shots, but still couldn’t claim an early lead, because the Artesians hit five of their first six.

Martinsville didn’t cool off much the rest of the way, hitting 24 of 41 overall (58.5 percent). Franklin hit 13 of 32 (40.6 percent), including just 9 of 27 (33.3 percent) after the first four minutes of play.

Franklin seniors dominated the stat sheet in their final home game. Makenna Bertsch led the Cubs’ balanced scoring effort with 10 points, including three 3-pointers, before fouling out. Fellow senior Delanie Hill added nine points, while seniors Allison Barnard and Cami Cochrane chipped in with seven apiece.

Kayana Traylor led Martinsville with 17 points, while Gracie Johnson added 11 and Jessica Nix had 10.

Franklin concludes regular-season play Thursday at Jennings County.

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Adam Wire is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal.