Lebanon pushed the tempo so drastically against visiting Franklin on Wednesday that the Tigers threatened to blow the Grizzly Cubs out of the gym.
Thanks to some defensive grit and relentless 3-point shooting, Franklin kept things competitive, though ultimately a youthful but talented Lebanon squad pulled away late to an 85-71 nonconference girls basketball victory.
The Cubs (10-9) hit 11 of 23 3-pointers (47.8 percent), but that wasn’t enough to offset Lebanon’s dead-eye shooting everywhere else.
The Class 3A Tigers (14-4) hit 27 of 40 from the floor (67.5 percent) and made 38 trips to the free-throw line, hitting 29 (76.3 percent). Franklin, meanwhile, attempted only eight free throws and hit just two. The Cubs shot 29 of 72 from the floor (40.3 percent).
“That in itself was the biggest difference,” Franklin coach Walt Raines said, referring to the free-throw disparity. “We attacked the basket but couldn’t get to the free-throw line, and we didn’t step over to stop them on their drives to the basket.”
A 20-2 Lebanon run that spanned the first and second quarters took the score from an 18-16 Franklin lead to a 36-20 Lebanon advantage with 2:51 remaining in the first half.
During that run, Tigers sophomore Kristen Spolyar scored 10 of her game-high 35 points. She hit 10 of 17 from the floor and 13 of 17 from the free-throw line overall.
Lebanon coach Beth DeVinney said Spolyar was two points shy of her season high.
“She’s capable of doing a lot of things,” DeVinney said. “Last year she had it easy with Katie Curtis on her team, who was an Indiana All-Star, but this year she’s had to work for every single shot.”
The Tigers’ lead grew to 61-39 with 3:23 remaining in the third quarter, but Franklin whittled away at the deficit, coming as close as 71-64 after a Maci Eads put-back basket with 3:25 remaining.
Spolyar, however, immediately responded with a 3-point play on Lebanon’s next possession, and the Cubs never drew closer than nine points after that.
Eads and Tara Parmer each scored 17 points for Franklin and combined for eight of the Cubs’ 11 3-pointers. Julia Smith added 14 points and five rebounds for Franklin.
Lebanon pushed the tempo throughout the game, scoring several baskets less than 10 seconds after gaining possession. Franklin’s 3-point shooting and defense, which forced Lebanon into 19 turnovers, kept things competitive in the early and latter portions of the game.
“That was by far our best shooting night in a long time,” Raines said. “We knew they were going to try to push the ball. We simply didn’t get back and recognize who we had to stop, and we didn’t cover people up.”
Franklin returns to action Saturday and concludes Mid-State Conference play at Martinsville.