For most of the first half, the Franklin girls basketball team hung with visiting Class 3A No. 7 Mount Vernon (Fortville).
Unfortunately for the Grizzly Cubs, it was a dramatically different story in the second half.
In the final two quarters, Mount Vernon broke open what had been a closely contested game to cruise to a 69-37 win.
Franklin trailed by as many as eight points in the first half but went into halftime trailing only 25-21. That was despite hitting 47 percent of their shots, compared to 34.5 percent by the Marauders.
Franklin also out-rebounded Mount Vernon 16-12 in the first half.
But Mount Vernon’s pressure defense was the difference, contesting every Franklin pass and forcing 13 Grizzly Cubs turnovers.
That problem would get worse in the second half.
Over the first three minutes of the third quarter, Franklin (5-6) turned the ball over five times and could not get off a shot attempt.
Franklin seemed to catch a break, though, when Mount Vernon junior center Erica Moore picked up her third foul with 6:15 remaining in the quarter. Kylie Whittington hit two free throws after the foul to cut the deficit to 30-23.
But with Moore on the bench, Mount Vernon’s Sydney Shelton took control of the game. The freshman guard scored 12 points during the next six minutes and helped to push the Marauders’ lead to 49-29.
Franklin never got comfortable on offense. The Cubs ended the night with 32 turnovers and only attempted 30 shots, hitting 13.
Whittington led the Cubs with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Moore had a game-high 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Shelton finished with 18 points. Rachel Houck added 16 for the Marauders (8-2), who knocked down 28 of 60 shots. They turned the ball over just 15 times.
The Cubs next play Dec. 28, when they host New Palestine in the first round of the Franklin Tournament.