Overtime sessions have been the norm in the Franklin Community High School’s brief boys basketball rivalry with Roncalli.
On Tuesday, the visiting Grizzly Cubs went out of their way to make sure a fifth quarter wasn’t necessary.
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Committing only three turnovers the entire game — all in the first quarter — Franklin, which came in having lost three of its previous four games, used crisp ball movement and clutch free-throw shooting to win, 53-45.
Sophomore guard Cory Richards came off the bench to lead all scorers with 18 points for the Cubs (12-7); senior forwards Hunter Gross and Tyler Craft chipped in 13 and nine, respectively, as Franklin picked up some much-needed momentum entering Friday’s home date with Plainfield.
A victory gives coach Brad Dickey’s squad an undisputed Mid-State Conference title.
“We really want to win that and be undisputed champs,” Craft said. “Coming off a loss against Columbus North we needed to get our confidence back.
“We had a hard practice (Monday), and coach put a good game plan together. We had focused on taking better shots, and everyone getting a touch before we put up a shot. We ran at our own pace.”
The Rebels led nearly the entire first half. Roncalli had opened up a 35-27 advantage with 4 minutes remaining in the third quarter when Franklin made its move.
A Craft 3-pointer from the left wing was followed by points off steals by senior point guard Jacob Rockey and Gross.
Franklin tied the game at 37-37 on a Gross hoop in close, while Rockey made the second of two free throws at 5:51 of the fourth to put the Grizzly Cubs on top.
Two free throws from 6-foot-10 Roncalli senior and Greenwood resident Collin Sonderman briefly put the Rebels back in front, but Franklin put together a 9-1 scoring run to put the game away.
The Cubs made good on 11 of 12 free-throw attempts in the game’s final 1:47.
Dickey felt his team’s ability to take care of the basketball and work for smart shots was the difference in the game.
“(Three turnovers) is an amazing number. Credit the seniors and the freshman (forward Drew Byerly) for becoming one of our primary ball-handlers,” Dickey said. “It was just a gutty, gutty performance.
“We’ve been disappointed in our last couple outings, but even in the parts when we were behind we were still very good. We did a super job to sneak in here and get a win.”
Leading Roncalli with 16 points off the bench was junior guard Conner Gore. Forward Bryson Meek, another junior, finished with 12, while Sonderman led all players in rebounds with eight.