Cat battle goes to Franklin County with nine-point win

HAGERSTOWN – A couple members of the cat family squared off in Tuesday’s opening game of the
2022-23 boys’ basketball season. In a matchup usually reserved for February, Franklin County’s Wildcats
visited the Hagerstown Tigers and translated a closing 18-4 run into a 47-38 victory. A finish by Kaagen Kendall on an inbound play had the host school up 34-29 late in the third quarter. But senior Jace Lee scored on a Wildcat inbound and a lob to senior Brant Ertel under the basket netted two more. With the clock under five seconds in the frame, Ertel picked up a steal at midcourt and released a runner in the lane fractions ahead of the buzzer; the good basket put FC up 35-34 with a quarter to play.
A Tiger free throw tied things early in the fourth, but with 5:48 remaining, senior Landen Wuestefeld finally connected from downtown after being unsuccessful from 19’9” on his previous attempts. Midway through the stanza, Carter Jenkins scored what would be Hagerstown’s lone field goal in the final 9-plus minutes of action. He couldn’t complete the 3-point play, however, and FC called timeout at 2:30 ahead by a slim 39-37. Ertel dished to Lee beautifully in the lane seconds later for a 4-point advantage. In the final two minutes, the Tigers managed just one foul shot as the Wildcats went 4-of-6 from the stripe and Ertel added a
driving layup for two of his game-high 20 points.
Early FC turnovers led to a 4-0 lead for HHS. But two FTs for senior Tanner Weartz and FC’s other 3- pointer on the night – by Ertel – switched the lead. A charity by sophomore Quinn Gillman later put the Cats up 10-9 and the lead was 11-10 at the end of one complete. A 5-0 Wildcat push in the second period – Ertel and Gillman drives and a Lee freebie – made it 17-13. A
stickback by senior Brady Morehead and a trio of Wuestefeld free throws had FC up 24-18. Hagerstown scored the half’s last five points to close within one at 24-23.
Early in the second half, Weartz was whistled for a technical foul, though the Tigers didn’t capitalize as Cole Tracy missed both ensuing FTs and nothing came of HHS’ extra offensive set. Instead, Lee scored in transition. Down by three, Hagerstown then produced a 7-0 run to go up 30-26, with Kendall scoring five of those. The Tigers owned 5-point leads at two intervals ahead of the FC comeback.
Lee added 10 points for the visitors; Wuestefeld canned 7, Morehead 5, Gillman 3 and Weartz 2. Kendall led Hagerstown with 15 and Tracy added 11. FC (1-0) will begin Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference play Saturday night at South Dearborn.

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