Neither of the Franklin Academy Patriots’ basketball teams trailed in the second half of their Saturday conference games against Research Triangle High.
The girls team remained unbeaten with a 58-8 victory, while the boys pulled away from the Raptors for an important North Central Athletic Conference 62-47 win. The games were played at the Raptors’ home away from home, the Steve F. Kelly Gymnasium at Hope Valley Baptist Church.
Patriot boys pick up win
Franklin Academy coach Matthew Durkin is hoping Saturday’s game is a sign of things to come. Franklin broke the game open in the second quarter. After trailing 13-10, the Patriots (6-10, 3-3) led 31-19 at halftime and the Raptors never got closer than nine in the second half.
It was the first time all season the Patriots had a full complement of its top scorers.
“We’ve had to deal with injuries, others issues with discipline problems and stuff, so it was great to see them work well together offensively and get some points up and get some good defensive stops,” Durkin said. “The beginning of the year was a little rough but hopefully we’re finding our groove right now.”
Brandon Hanson, a senior, led a balanced attack.
Hanson had 14 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Teammates Trevor Troutman had 15 points while Devon McCluskey had 10 and Taylor Shealy had nine.
“Tonight was just a lot of passing between players and not settling on one player to get points. (It was) spreading the ball, spreading the wealth to make sure that everyone can get their points,” Hanson said. “The chemistry that we have been able to build ever since the start of the season and it gets better each time we get a player back.”
The Raptors (3-9, 1-6), who will have their first senior class starting next season, have lost six straight games.
“Our defensive awareness is not where it should have been. They have some good shooters who we knew were good shooters. We talked about them in pregame, we just didn’t have the awareness to find them. Our defense, in transition, was horrible,” second-year coach LaMont Frazier said. “We’re trying to learn how to start the game with that same fire that needs to be consistent throughout the game. That’s the biggest focus that we have right now.”
There were some young bright spots for Research Triangle. Freshman Zaire Stukes had 15 points and 11 rebounds while sophomore J’Quan Deal had 14. Reserve Tony Kressevich had seven rebounds.
“Eventually that hard work will pay off,” Frazier said. “We’re paving the road for a brighter future.”
FA girls still unbeaten
Research Triangle had no wins, no senior class, no juniors (all four were injured or sick) and Franklin Academy had no losses.
The outcome was all but certain as the Patriots (12-0, 6-0) led 28-1 after the first quarter, 41-2 at halftime and a running clock soon began in the second half. It was tough sledding for the Raptors (0-13, 0-7), who got their first field goal at the 3:31 mark in the third quarter.
The Patriots were led by Amelia Huffman’s 15 points. Brittany Henderson added 11 and Brooke Gupton had 10 as all but two players got into the scoring book.
Megan Kopp had a team-high nine rebounds off the bench while fellow reserve Abby Keel led the team with seven steals.
“We all work really well together,” Huffman said. “We know each other’s tendencies and how each other plays and their strengths and weaknesses.”
Franklin had 29 steals, which blew the game wide open and kept the Patriots on the ultimate prize this season.
“They’re unselfish, able to share the ball well,” Franklin Academy coach Erin Thornton said. “Our hope is to get at least a 20-win season and get to at least the second round of states.”
The Raptors were led by Bryia Huskey’s six points. Despite the loss, first-year coach Robert Eastmann’s team ended the game on a high note.
He called timeout with eight seconds left and drew up a play. His team ran it to perfection, but Huskey’s shot was off and Taeylor Wilson’s putback at the buzzer missed too. But executing what was drawn up in the huddle is a start to the building process.
“We knew that was coming, but we wanted to get something out of it,” Eastmann said. “They walked off feeling good. ‘Hey, a play worked. We ran it the way we were supposed to.’ And at that point, when you’re playing with seven kids against a team like that – you just have to get some of those moral victories.”
“We’re focusing on fundamentals,” he added. “We’re ignoring the scoreboard.”