Whiteland didn’t allow a double-figure scorer and held the visiting Franklin Central girls basketball team to 27 percent field-goal shooting Friday night, but the Warriors’ own offensive woes kept them from earning a season-opening win.
The Flashes’ lone offensive spurt, a 9-0 second-quarter run, gave them a 19-10 lead midway through the period. The host Warriors never drew closer than six points the rest of the way in a 40-29 loss.
Franklin Central, which was playing its season-opener as well, and was ranked 25th in the preseason Class 4A poll, hit just 13 of 47 field-goal attempts, and no Flashes player scored more than Sydney Huffman’s eight points.
Whiteland, however, labored through its own shooting problems, hitting just 11 of 39 attempts tries (28 percent). The Warriors never scored more than nine points in a quarter and never scored more than five unanswered points.
“The kids battled. We’ve just got to find a way to convert on our opportunities,” first-year Warriors coach Kyle Shipp said. “We were right there. We’ll get better at converting those chances.”
The Warriors’ five-point run, early in the fourth quarter, closed a 31-20 deficit to 31-25. Chelsea Perry’s driving layup and 3-pointer, both following Franklin Central turnovers, made it a six-point game with 5:40 remaining. Whiteland had several chances to close the deficit, but didn’t score again until Michaela Harris hit two free throws with 1:05 remaining to cut the Flashes’ lead to 33-27.
From there, the Warriors were forced to foul to stop the clock, and Franklin Central hit 7 of 8 fourth-quarter free throws.
Harris led all scorers with 13 points and tied Franklin Central’s Abbey Titzer for game-high honors with nine rebounds. Perry added nine points and Kaitlyn Phillips had seven, but no other Warrior scored.
Senior starting guard Jordyn Francis sat out the second half after suffering an allergic reaction midway through the second quarter, and Annie Polley played with foul trouble throughout the game, limiting Whiteland’s rotation.
The Warriors used only seven players. The Flashes, meanwhile, had seven different players score. Huffman scored eight off the bench, while Amber May and Rachel Titzer each added seven. Franklin Central dominated the glass, grabbing 37 rebounds to Whiteland’s 22.
“We had two freshmen (Huffman and Rachel Titzer) who should have been scared, playing in their first high school games, but they played like they had played forever,” Flashes coach Brian Hacker said. “We can be a good defensive team, and that (9-0) stretch was the best all night.”
Shipp said Franklin Central’s defense keyed the decisive second-quarter spurt.
“They got us to turn it over, and that run was probably the difference in the game,” he said.
“We didn’t have the same intensity that we had in the first quarter.”
Whiteland plays today at New Palestine.