Seniors help Wildcats past Lions
GREENSBURG – A pair of Franklin County senior running mates were determined not to go home early from Sectional 29 hosted by Greensburg.
Jace Lee and Brant Ertel combined for 32 points Tuesday in the tournament opener against Rushville, an Ertel to Lee basket icing the game late for FC in a 50-45 win. Both Wildcat upperclassmen missed significant time during the 2022-23 season, making up for those lost minutes with Tuesday’s performance – Lee a game-high 18 points and Ertel 14.
The same combo made it 44-38 in FC’s favor around the game’s 3-minute mark but 3-pointers by Quentin Cain and Kameron Morton (Cain assist) tied the contest at 44 with 80 seconds left.
FC senior Brady Morehead was then sent to the free throw line; he missed the front end of a one-and-one but collected the carom and returned to the stripe. This time he was good on both charities. Quinn Gillman rebounded a missed three by Rushville, was fouled and sank 1 of 2 for a 3-point Wildcat lead. Cain made 1 of 2 after being fouled but out of an FC timeout, Lee scored and Morehead added a foul shot with only fractions of a second left.
The Cats enjoyed their largest margins as play went deep into the third period. A reverse layup by Lee made it a 31-23 with 4:32 to go. Rushville managed just six free throws before quarter’s end, while FC got a pair of key 3-point shots – Ertel at 2:33 off a Gillman assist and junior Eli Butt at 1:48 from the wing. It was a 37-29 game with eight minutes to play.
A three by Xxzavien Jenkins made it a 5-point game early in the fourth. Morehead answered with a tip-in and subsequent FT attempt; the missed freebie had FC up 39-32 before another Jenkins triple. A successful drive by Lee and later his drawing a blocking call on Lion big man Dylan Thompson led to a 42-36 count.
The game had a bizarre opening. Rushville was assessed a technical foul during the warmup session (violations include dunking) so Butt stepped to the 15-foot line to get the contest underway – making 1 of 2. The FC guard soon put the Cats up 4-2 with a 3-point bucket. The Lions scored the next five points, capped by a Morton to Chase Woolf finish.
At 7-7, Cain completed a 3-point play before Gillman found Ertel in the corner for the tie. Rushville, working for a final shot in the quarter, got exactly that as Jenkins connected from beyond the arc for a 13-11 Lion lead.
Cain popped a jumper just inside the foul line to start period two, though he picked up a charging call shortly after. Xander Rodriguez made it 15-13 with an athletic putback. Nick Jarman (from Morton) hit from the 3-point line at 4:53 of the half to put RCHS up five. With the score 19-13, Lee ended a dry spell for FC with back-to-back layups. An Ertel drive completed first-half scoring, leaving the Cats just shy at 21-19.
The Wildcat run reached 9-0 as play resumed. Ertel drove in for two more, Lee was true on two FTs and Gillman finished a successful 3-point play. FC never trailed again. Three more points by Ertel had Lion coach Ryan Ehm calling time at 5:05 of the third.
Jenkins paced RCHS with 13 and Cain scored 11. Morton had 9, Thompson was held to five free throws, Woolf added 4 and Jarman 3. Butt 7, Morehead 5, Gillman 4 and XRod 2 rounded out the winning side.
FC (10-13) faces Batesville in the semifinal round Friday, 6 p.m. Championship is set for Saturday, 7:30 p.m.