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Poor second half dooms Franklin

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Powered by an aggressive defense, the Mooresville girls basketball team cruised past Franklin 53-31 Thursday afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The Mid-State Conference matchup was the third of five games played as part of the Bankers Life Fieldhouse Challenge in Indianapolis.

Cranking up the defensive pressure in the second half, Mooresville pulled away in the third quarter, when it forced 12 turnovers to take control of a game it led 20-17 at halftime.

Franklin coach Walt Raines was disappointed by the Grizzly Cubs’ second-half effort.

“Mooresville outhustled us, and they wanted the ball more than we did,” Raines said. “It’s frustrating. It’s embarrassing to put a team out there that’s not going to fight anymore than we did.

“They came out and got after us, and we just ran and hid. It’s just a lack of focus and a lack of hunger to go out there and fight for it.”

Both teams appeared tentative in the first quarter, the result of which was a 6-all tie at the end of the period.

Franklin took its only lead of the game at 9-8 on a free throw by senior center Kyle Whittington in the second quarter. Mooresville then went ahead when freshman Lauren McBryar came off the bench and hit two 3-pointers.

Mooresville (11-3, 3-1 Mid-State) led by 10 in the first half before the Cubs sliced it to three at halftime thanks to a 7-0 run sparked by a 3-pointer by freshman guard Maci Eads.

But the Pioneers took control in the third quarter, outscoring the Cubs 19-8 in the period.

Mooresville extended its lead to 48-25 in the final period, at which point both coaches pulled their starters and cleared their benches.

“We’re going to have to decide which kids want to be out there to work hard and practice hard,” said Raines, whose team fell to 6-8 overall and 0-4 in the Mid-State. “Those are (the ones) that are going to play.”

Senior guard Brett Green led Mooresville with 17 points. McBryar added 12, and senior Jessica McFarland scored 10.

The Pioneers’ win was their eighth in their past nine games, improving their overall record to 11-3 and 3-1 in the conference.

Franklin, meanwhile fell to 6-8 and 0-4 in the Mid-State.

Whittington led the Cubs with 13 points. She also had four rebounds.

Franklin’s next game is Jan. 10 at Perry Meridian.

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