Historic gym unkind to Franklin County in dual losses

Photo Courtesy Red Caboose Photography

KNIGHTSTOWN – The iconic Hoosier Gym at Knightstown in Henry County was transformed – at least on Saturday night – into the Buckeye Gym as the Talawanda Braves (of Oxford, Ohio) girls and boys dropped a pair of losses on the Franklin County Wildcats, the nightcap ending in an extremely improbable finish. FC girls coach Kyle VanMeter and boys coach Mark Foster were generous in allowing minutes to every uniformed player as the experience of playing on the set of the 1986 classic “Hoosiers” trumped the final outcomes. With the Wildcat bleachers filled behind them, Hoosiers/Milan aficionado Rob Allen and Brandon Cowen had the privilege of being the night’s public address announcers.

Lady Braves 78, Lady Wildcats 51
The lethal inside-outside combination of seniors Kylee Fears and Taylor Farris, as well as an 18-0 barrage to start the second quarter (28-5 advantage in same), were too much for FC’s ladies to handle in what would be a 27-point loss. Fears, the top scorer in Talawanda hoops history, showed why with a 26-point effort. The Merrimack College (Massachusetts) recruit saw sidekick and University of Southern Illinois-Edwardsville commit Farris add 20 more as the Brave essentially had things wrapped up at halftime, 44-19.
After a 10-2 start, FC finally adjusted to the old-style confines and outscored the Oxford club 12-6 to end the first frame. Despite losing Nicole Mears to early foul trouble, the Cats got six points from senior Kassidy Schell and classmate Josie Rolfes tripled from the corner before assisting freshman Ruby Singer in transition and hitting from deep again just before the buzzer. Good FC vibes came to a halt as play resumed, with Talawanda attacking relentlessly at both ends of the court to go up 34-14. It started with two by McKenna Weekley before Farris dropped in seven of the next nine points. With Weekley and Fears scoring off turnovers, VanMeter asked for time with his team down 20. The Brave pushed their advantage with a feed to Fears and traditional 3-point play by Grace Richardson. Richardson hit a long 2-point shot and Farris connected from three late in the half. The third quarter was the Fears and Mears show as FC’s post reentered the contest to score 10 of her team-high 16 points. Meanwhile, Talawanda’s pivot put in 12 points in the stanza, including an old- fashioned 3-point play to make it 56-31 and completion of another and-one off a putback as time ran out; she knocked in the free throw for a 61-35 lead after three. The closest FC came in the fourth was 18 following the second basket for freshman Mackenzie Broshear and two more of Mears’ 10 made foul shots. Schell (13) and Rolfes (11 – 3 three-pointers) were also in double figures, with Singer adding 5, Broshear 4 and Jacy Grimmeissen 2. Myah Keene scored 11 for the Brave.
FC finished the regular season at 15-6 as a 5-game win streak was snapped. The girls take on Batesville Wednesday night in Sectional 29.

Photo Courtesy Red Caboose Photography

Braves 48, Wildcats 46

Looking for a last-second miracle or at least extending the night into overtime, FC’s boys and fan block were instead stunned when Talawanda’s Cale Leitch tipped the inbound pass by Brady Morehead with .9 seconds on the clock and fired in a 15-footer at the buzzer to give the Brave a dramatic 48-46 victory. The loss was the fifth straight for the Cats, who fell to 8-8 on the year. The Wildcats led 42-34 midway through the fourth quarter. Trevor Norris started the Brave comeback with a little runner ahead of a timeout at 3:35. Senior Brant Ertel, returning to the FC lineup after an injury hiatus, continued a torrid night with a double-pump basket. Logan Kent then made a key play for Talawanda, rebounding a free throw miss and getting fouled on a successful putback; the ensuing foul shot made it 44-39. With 2:50 left, Isaiah Meade-Moss buried a 3-pointer from the corner to cut the deficit to two. In the double bonus at 2:03, Talawanda got tying FTs from Logan Smith. Ertel and Meade-Moss exchanged scoring drives to make it 46-46. After a backcourt violation was reversed by officials, FC nearly had the game-winner when Eli Butt’s three attempt rimmed out. The Brave rebounded and called time with 5.3 seconds remaining. FC called two full timeouts around a Talawanda turnover, only to see Leitch play hero in the final second.
The game was never more than an 8-point affair, with FC doubling up the Brave at 16-8 late in the first period before a three by Leitch. Another Leitch triple opened offense in the second frame and Norris found Smith for the tie at 16. Ertel put FC ahead with a floater, later making it 20-18 with a coast-to-coast effort. Three points by Meade- Moss sent the Brave ahead by one before Nick Vanoven assisted on an Ertel three. Meade-Moss earned an assist to Smith but freshman Blake Stephenson got a rebound bucket at the horn for a 25-23 FC lead at half.
Tied at 25 early in the second half, Ertel’s 3-point play pushed him over the 1,000-point threshold for his career; officials stopped play and AD Denny Dorrel addressed the FC crowd in acknowledging the milestone in such a memorable locale. Ertel reached 20 points on a fast-break goal and Butt’s 3-pointer had FC up 33-27. FC’s 3-2 zone on defense had the Brave calling timeout to adjust. The Cats held on to their half-dozen lead with a bucket by Xander Rodriguez. Kent’s foul shots set the score at 35-31 with a quarter left. Bryce James hit a 3 for Talawanda early in the fourth but Ertel responded by scoring five quick ones on his way to getting FC’s last 11 points. Quinn Gillman got the game’s scoring started with a 19-foot jumper. Malyki McRoberts put the Brave up with a 3-point shot; Butt answered from distance but James did the same to make it 6-5. A Landon Johnson bucket from the arc switched the lead again and Ertel hit a three for his first points at 2:15. A left-hand scoop and three from the top of the key were additional Ertel highlights early. Ertel pumped in 31 points, followed by Butt (6), Johnson (3) and Gillman, Stephenson and XRod 2 each. Meade-Moss paced the Brave with a dozen.
FC hosts Campbell (Kentucky) Thursday and Class A Edinburgh Saturday afternoon.

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