FRANKLIN — Brian Bales reached a coaching milestone Tuesday night and was quick to thank all the people who helped him get there.
Franklin High School’s boys basketball coach collected his 200th career victory with a 67-42 conquest of visiting Monroe, a win that included double-digit scoring from Savon O’Neal (22) and Will Emrick (11).
“Obviously 200 is special,” said Bales, who’s 184-70 in 12 years with the Wildcats after going 16-26 in two seasons at Miamisburg. “First of all, God’s favor has been incredible to me and this program, so thank you to Jesus Christ. Then I’ve had a lot of great coaches and a lot of great players in this program. It’s nothing one person can do alone.”
TUESDAY NIGHT BASKETBALL COVERAGE
He was thrilled to share the moment with his players and coaches, past and present.
“I had a lot of former coaches here tonight — my former high school coach was here tonight — and a lot of former players,” Bales said. “To me, that’s what’s most special about reaching a milestone like this.”
Emrick, a junior guard, said Bales told the team about being one win short of 200 before the game. Was the milestone a big deal to the players?
“Absolutely,” Emrick said. “You should’ve seen the locker room afterwards. It was a blast.”
Franklin improved to 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division, while Monroe fell to 1-3, 1-1.
The Hornets tried to be spoilers Tuesday, but piled up 19 turnovers and got worn down by the Wildcats’ quickness and relentless defensive pressure.
Monroe was within 39-30 after back-to-back baskets by Nick Osterman with 3:20 left in the third quarter. Franklin responded with a 15-2 spurt that buried the Hornets’ victory hopes.
“The plan was to press and run it down their throat the whole game,” Emrick said. “Our 1-3-1 defense is hard to go against. We knew they were down in the second half because we were tired. And if we were tired, they had to be really tired.”
Nick Alfrey and Will DeBord paced Monroe with 10 and nine points, respectively. Caimanne Turner had seven points and five rebounds.
“I think we quit looking at the basket at times, and when you do that against any kind of zone pressure, that’s what they want you to do,” Hornets coach Kenny Molz said. “When the ball dies in one spot for too long, it seems like 80 people are out there playing defense.
“You’ve got to keep using pass fakes and shot fakes while keeping the basket in your vision because as spread out as they were, the basket is open a lot of the time. Seeing that is a maturity thing with young players, and we’ve got a lot of young guys out here.”
The Wildcats converted a season-low five 3-pointers. They spent much of the night scampering past Monroe defenders and getting to the rim for baskets.
O’Neal, a junior guard and transfer from Miamisburg, was the leader. The Hornets had no answer for his quickness.
“Savon O’Neal is dangerous at really pushing pressure on the offensive end,” Bales said. “We’ve got a lot of shooters around him, and we’ve got guys that can rebound with him. A lot of people think that we just shoot 3s, but we’ve got a lot of guys that can get to the basket and finish this year, maybe more than we have in the past.
“We’ve got a lot of different defenses that we play, but the 1-3-1 seemed to stick tonight. I thought our guys did a great job of extending pressure and getting to their personnel, guys on our scouting report that we wanted to stop or limit.”
O’Neal had six rebounds and four assists for Franklin. Kamry Fuller and Zack Minton contributed seven points and three steals apiece, and Caden Johnson tossed in seven points.
The Wildcats are playing without senior post Brayden Hall, who suffered a broken tibia in the preseason. Bales is hopeful he will be back at some point this season.
Emrick said Franklin is aiming high in 2018-19.
“It all comes from defense for us. If our defense is there, who knows how far we can go?” he said. “We’re a family. We’re going to do it together.”
Molz said Bales is deserving of praise for the program he’s built.
“He’s built it from the bottom up,” Molz said. “That’s what good programs do. You can replace guys moving forward, and he’s got a lot of kids that want to get better and are excited to come up to the varsity level and play. I think we’re starting to get that way at Monroe. We have some young kids that are being more excited about basketball.
“This year is different than last year. Last year we started out well, then we hit some rough spots and didn’t respond well as the season went on. I felt like we didn’t get much better than we were at the beginning of the year. With this group, I think we have made strides, even in this game. We have very winnable games coming up that can get us back on track. I think we can surprise some people this year.”
Both teams will be back on the court Friday, the Hornets at Valley View and the Wildcats at Bellbrook.
MONROE (1-3, 1-1 SWBL Southwestern): Will DeBord 3 1 9; Nick Osterman 3 0 7; Nick Alfrey 3 2 10; Caimanne Turner 3 1 7; Collin Deaton 1 2 4; Tanner Perkins 1 0 3; Adam Ploeger 1 0 2. Totals: 15-6-42
FRANKLIN (3-1, 2-1 SWBL Southwestern): Kamry Fuller 2 3 7; Zack Minton 2 1 7; Savon O’Neal 10 1 22; Will Emrick 5 0 11; Braden Woods 0 2 2; Ryan Russell 2 0 5; Caden Johnson 3 1 7; Caleb Barnhardt 1 0 2; Caden James 1 0 2; Nick Back 1 0 2. Totals: 27-8-67
3-pointers: M 6 (DeBord 2, Alfrey 2, Osterman, Perkins), F 5 (Minton 2, O’Neal, Emrick, Russell)
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