Jerry Bomholt has coached enough postseason games to know good teams can lose early the same way mediocre ones sometimes move on.
When it comes to March in Indiana, no set pattern exists.
“The name of the game right now is win. Find a way,” said Bomholt, the Franklin boys basketball coach, whose team survived a 47-44 scare against New Palestine on Tuesday to advance to tonight’s semifinals at the Center Grove Sectional.
It’s not that the Grizzly Cubs at 15-6 can be overlooked. They have played terrific basketball in certain stretches — including separate winning streaks of six, four and three games — but dropped three of their final four regular-season games.
Bomholt hopes the close call against the Dragons served as the splash of cold water necessary to return his team to early-February form.
“Right now I don’t think we’re playing as well as we can play. We played very well the first half against Jennings County (a 63-57 loss on
Feb. 28) and very well in the second half against New Pal,” said Bomholt, who continues to seek 32 solid minutes from his team.
“I always pride myself on trying to get my teams to play well by tournament time, but a lot of it depends on how your kids handle one-and-done. I think it has to do with confidence and maturity. We have a senior-laden team, so you think that would carry over.”
It will have to for Franklin to qualify for Saturday night’s championship game.
The Cubs’ four-game winning streak against Greenwood is somewhat deceiving in that the past two triumphs were by a total of eight points. Franklin eked out a 54-52 decision against the visiting Woodmen on Dec. 13.
“I think it will be a close game again, and I think the second game will be the same way because this sectional is so balanced,” said Bomholt, referring to the second semifinal between Center Grove and Franklin Central.
“(Jaren) Hornbeak is an outstanding guard for Greenwood. He can score 30 in a game, but you can’t focus so much on him that you forget the other players. We have to just come out and play our game and not play out of fear.”
Sound advice for Center Grove in the nightcap as the Trojans attempt to snap a four-game losing streak to the Flashes.
Franklin Central also is 4-0 against Center Grove in sectional games dating back to the 2004-05 season. Most recent is the 48-47 heartbreak the Flashes supplied in the 2013 championship game.
The Trojans, after enduring an eight-game losing streak late in the regular season, now have won two straight thanks to an 82-74 victory against Whiteland on Tuesday.
At the Class 3A Beech Grove Sectional, Indian Creek faces Greencastle in this evening’s first semifinal. The Braves are in search of their first sectional title since 2000.
Greenwood Christian Academy, meanwhile, seeks its second postseason win in school history after breaking ground with Wednesday’s 68-57 decision against Southwestern (Shelby) at the Class A Edinburgh Sectional.
Awaiting the Cougars is Lutheran, which handed Greenwood Christian a 40-33 loss on Dec. 14.
“We shot really poorly the first game against Lutheran. We got good looks, but they just weren’t falling,” Greenwood Christian coach Jamie Satre said. “It will be a tough game. With our record I think people are wanting to beat us and bring their best.”
Wednesday’s victory broke a seven-game sectional losing streak dating back to the 2006-2007 season, the first in which Greenwood Christian participated in the annual IHSAA tournament.
“I think out team did a nice job of being patient against Southwestern, and our crowd was great,” Satre said. “It’s fun to feel like we have another game to play.”