With only four regular-season games remaining, the Franklin College men’s basketball team continues to hold a firm grip on fifth place in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference standings.
With home wins against Hanover on Wednesday and Manchester on Saturday, the Grizzlies improved their league record to 8-6 and 13-8 overall.
Their biggest test comes Wednesday when they visit conference leader Rose-Hulman.
The top six teams qualify for the conference playoffs the week of Feb. 19.
In its 68-48 win against Manchester, the Grizzlies duplicated the same kind of energy and intensity, especially defensively, they played with against Hanover.
“Our guard play has greatly matured this season, in addition to our inside play from freshmen Dion Smith and sophomore Chris Carruthers,” Franklin coach Kerry Prather said. “As much as I’d like to take credit for that, you’ve really got to give it to Gunner (Erwin), who has brought them along to this point.”
Erwin, Franklin’s lone senior, was one of four players to hit double-figures against Manchester.
Leading the way was junior guard Bailey Howard with a game-high 19 points. Erwin and Terry Sargent added 11 each, and freshman guard Trae Washington scored 10.
Coming out of halftime with a 32-21 lead, Franklin maintainted control through the second half.
“In this league, you’ve got to be playing the best at the end when it matters most,” Prather said.
Jared Schrock led Manchester (4-17, 1-13) with 11 points.
Franklin returns to action Wednesday at Rose-Hulman.