Dogs extend Wildcats’ losing string
BATESVILLE – With their two top scorers still sidelined, the Franklin County Wildcats visited Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference rival Batesville Friday in hopes of snapping the team’s longest losing streak since the tail end of 2020-21. This wasn’t meant to be as Aaron Garrett’s Bulldogs shot out to a 21-5 lead in the first half, led by three touchdowns at halftime and pulled away late to post a 49-28 victory.
The third quarter provided a little scare for the host school when the Cats came aggressively out of the locker room to score 11 of the half’s first 15 points. Senior Tanner Weartz scored in the early moments and classmate Brady Morehead’s bucket was matched by Jack Grunkemeyer’s lay-in to make it 32-11, still the same deficit as the midpoint.
However, FC went on a 7-0 run in the next couple minutes to prompt a Bulldog timeout. Morehead scored once more, followed by a charging call on BHS’ Cade Kaiser. Xander Rodriguez made 1 of 2 at the charity stripe while Quinn Gillman and Eli Butt trimmed the Dogs’ lead to 32-18.
Rodriguez scored on the block (assist to Weartz) at 2:48 of the frame and a follow-up hoop by Weartz made it a 10-point game, extending FC’s spurt to 11 unanswered. This would prove to be the Wildcats’ last stand as Batesville responded with 11 consecutive of its own to make it 46-22 with Garrett inserting his deep reserves.
Carson Laker triggered the run with a straightaway three and it was 35-22 going into the fourth. Junior Sam Johnson hit a triple from the corner to make it a 17-point advantage, Grunkemeyer curled in the lane and Kaiser scored in transition to lead to Mark Foster calling time at 43-22. Chris Lewis made the second of two free throw attempts after an intentional foul call and Conner Drake had a reverse putback. FC closed with a 6-3 run.
In the game’s opening minutes, BHS built a 6-0 lead with Johnson’s lob to Kaiser and Cole Pride’s tip-in among the highlights. Butt’s trey with 4:28 on the clock halved the deficit to 6-3.
Over the next nine-plus minutes, though, the hosts outscored FC by 15-2. A Rodriguez goal (from Weartz) preceded an eight-minute drought by the guests. Meanwhile, Johnson tripled and Grunkemeyer and Pride scored down low to force an FC timeout at 2:57 of the first stanza. It was already 17-5 at the end of one.
A layup by Kaiser and steal and score for Lewis put the scoreboard at 21-5. Sophomore Landon Johnson stopped the run with a deep two-pointer. “Grunk” then followed in an offensive rebound but couldn’t complete the and-one. In the final minute, freshman Trenten Luers connected from long range. With 4.1 seconds until intermission, Pride went to the line for a one-and-one chance; he missed the first but FC was called for a lane violation and Pride proceeded to sink the next two to make it 28-7.
Kaiser led all scorers with 11 despite picking up his fourth foul with three minutes left in the third. Grunkemeyer dipped into double digits with 10 and Pride added 8. Gillman paced the visitors with 6. Additional scoring: S. Johnson (6), Drake (5), Rodriguez (5), Butt (5), Morehead (4), Weartz (4), L. Johnson (4), Laker (3), Luers (3), Lewis (3).
BHS (9-4, 2-1) faces Connersville at the Spartan Bowl Jan. 21 while FC (8-7, 1-4) has an 8-day break until a visit to Talawanda (Ohio) the evening of Jan. 28.