Inexperienced Franklin team will have to learn on the fly

A heavy burden has been placed on the parents of the Franklin girls basketball players during this preseason.

With a team as young as the Grizzly Cubs, just arranging transportation to and from practice is an issue.

“What’s funny is that I think of the 20-plus girls we have, only two or three can drive,” Franklin coach Josh Sabol said.

The Grizzly Cubs can worry about getting licenses later. For now, the bigger concern is helping a group with very little varsity experience learn to stay afloat against more seasoned teams.

Four starters graduated from last year’s club. Of the players coming back, only senior forward Maya Elliott and sophomore forward Hailee Robbins saw any meaningful minutes last year. The rest will be forced to grow up quickly.

“We’re going to be really, really, really young, but it’s a good group of kids,” Sabol said. “They work hard, the culture’s in great shape, and I’m excited about the future.”

For Elliott, the Grizzly Cubs’ lone senior, the future is now — but she knows that the program is a work in progress, and she’s happy to play the role of the patient matriarch.

“Even if this year is not going to be the year I want to have,” she said, “I know that just getting them to be leaders is going to help them in the future, so that’s all I really care about.”

Elliott won’t have to carry all of the leadership burden; Sabol says that he’s been impressed by what he’s seen in that category from not only Robbins but fellow sophomores Peyton Wilson and Abby DeArmitt, both of whom saw occasional varsity action last winter and are being counted on to play larger roles.

It’ll take some time for the Grizzly Cubs to piece it together, but Sabol is optimistic about the future and eager to continue the growth process.

“We’ve got a bunch of girls that have really worked hard this offseason,” he said, “so I’m excited to throw them out into the fire and watch them learn, watch them grow.”

Scouting the Grizzly Cubs

Head coach: Josh Sabol

Last season: 10-14, lost to Whiteland in first round of sectional

Key returnees: Abby DeArmitt, So., F/C; Maya Elliott, Sr., F; Hailee Robbins, So., F; Peyton Wilson, So., G

Fresh faces: Kyra Baker, Fr., G; Bayleigh Torrance, Jr., C

Outlook: The Grizzly Cubs will be incredibly young this season — Elliott is the lone senior on the roster, and the rotation is dominated by freshmen and sophomores. Some of those youngsters, particularly Robbins, saw action last season, but for many others, especially rookie point guard Baker, it’ll be a baptism by fire. This could be a dangerous team by season’s end, but Franklin will likely take some lumps early on.

Coachspeak: “I was kind of joking with our younger kids. I said, ‘I need you guys to act like you’re 30 years old.’ In most programs, you have seniors, you have juniors, and there’s a ton of them and they kind of show you the way. Well, our young cubs have to show the way.” — Sabol

2017-18 schedule

Date;Opponent;Time

Nov. 2;Mt. Vernon (Fortville);7:30 p.m.

Nov. 7;Southport;7:30 p.m.

Nov. 8;at Franklin Central;7:30 p.m.

Nov. 10;Greensburg;7:30 p.m.

Nov. 14-18;Johnson County tournament;TBA

Nov. 28;at Center Grove;7:30 p.m.

Nov. 30;Beech Grove;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 1;at Decatur Central;6 p.m.

Dec. 7; at Bloomington North;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 9;Plainfield;1:30 p.m.

Dec. 15;at Greenwood;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 16;Shelbyville;6 p.m.

Dec. 30;Walt Raines Classic;TBA

Jan. 2;at Bloomington South;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 5;Mooresville;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 9;at Columbus North;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 11;Perry Meridian;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 20;Whiteland;1:30 p.m.

Jan. 23;at Martinsville;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 25;Jennings County;7:30 p.m.

Author photo
Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at roleary@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.