Cats pick up from last year, start 2-0

After an 18-win campaign in 2021-22, Franklin County boys basketball is off to a nice start again following opening-week wins over Hagerstown and Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference foe South Dearborn.

Saturday night in Aurora, the Wildcats brought home a 51-39 victory over the Knights.

SD went on a 7-4 swing to end the first half up 22-19, despite senior Brant Ertel’s long 2-point basket to beat the halftime horn. The bucket started an 8-0 run by the visitors and the Knights never regained the lead again, though the score was knotted at 34 after three quarters.

In the fourth, Ertel (17-footer) and classmate Landen Wuestefeld (3 off a Quinn Gillman assist) put FC up by five. Later, with a 7-point advantage, the Cats patiently ran the offense. A three by Payton Hill cut the lead to 42-37 and first-year SD coach Patrick Cosgrove called timeout.

Senior Jace Lee then converted an and-one opportunity to start a string of eight unanswered for the guests. He added a wide-open layup from an Ertel pass.

Ertel (from Wuestefeld) began the night with a triple, part of a 12-point first half for No. 30. SD scored the next four to grab the lead; Ertel put in two before a three by Kenny Carpenter made it 7-5. Gillman hit two at the line for an early tie. The back and forth continued as Ertel banged in another drive, Carpenter scored down low and Ertel tripled off a Nick Vanoven assist. A deep 3 by Wuestefeld helped FC to a 16-12 lead after one.

Only three goals were scored in the next frame (all by SD) prior to Ertel’s last-second shot. Two came from Ryan Willoughby and Brodie Teke completed a 3-point play.

Senior Brady Morehead fed Lee for two to open the second half. A pair of Lee steals led to a Gillman free throw and Wuestefeld 3-ball, making it 25-22. Back-to-back field goals by Ertel produced a 29-23 score and Gillman’s trey made it 32-24. Around another Ertel make, Teke canned two 3-pointers. Willoughby rounded out the third with two FTs.

Ertel led all scorers for a second straight game, netting 23. Wuestefeld’s trio of threes gave him 9, with Lee getting 8, Gillman 7, Morehead 3 and Eli Butt 1. Teke (13) and Willoughby (11) paced the Knights.

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