FRANKLIN — There will be some new faces competing for Franklin High School’s boys basketball team this season, but fans should expect more of the same when it comes to style of play.
“We want to play fast. We want to press. We want to shoot lots of 3s. We want to attack the basket,” 12th-year coach Brian Bales said. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take us to figure it all out, but we’ve got the talent. The experience thing will be a huge factor.
“We’ve always believed here that if you can have pieces to a puzzle and guys that want to accept roles and kind of leave their egos outside the door … that’s been a formula for success for us. And I think we’ve got guys willing to do that.”
BOYS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEW
The Wildcats were 17-6 overall and 10-2 in the Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division last season, sharing the title with Bellbrook. It was Franklin’s seventh straight Southwestern championship.
Two starters, 6-foot-3 senior center Brayden Hall and 6-0 junior guard Zack Minton, return for the Wildcats. Hall averaged 8.6 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting 53.6 percent from the floor season, while Minton averaged 10 points and shot 41.2 percent from 3-point range.
“Brayden’s a real blue-collar guy. He does all the dirty work,” Bales said. “He plays a lot bigger than 6-3. He’s going to be our leader as a senior, and we’re going to lean on him a lot for his experience and toughness.
“Zack’s got to be one of the premier spot-up shooters in this area. He was kind of unknown last year, so he was getting the other team’s fourth-best defender. Now he’s one of our main returners. People know who he is.”
Junior guards Will Emrick and Ryan Russell are also back after playing in nearly every game last season. The 6-3 Emrick was a 3-point specialist who shot 42.4 percent from beyond the arc, while the 6-0 Russell tallied 2.9 points per game.
“Ryan’s a really good playmaker,” Bales said. “Will’s another premier shooter, and he’s added some things to his game in the offseason. He really, really works at it. Basketball’s his passion. He’s a kid that wants to play somewhere after high school.”
The point-guard position is a battle between 5-6 juniors Kamry Fuller, mostly a JV player last season, and Savon O’Neal, who scored 7.2 points per game last year at Miamisburg.
“Right now, I could play either one. I might play them both together,” Bales said. “Kamry is a great leader. He’s positive, his energy’s contagious, and he plays with a motor that never stops. Downhill, north to south, he may be one of the quickest guys we’ve had here. Savon is also very shifty, very quick laterally. He’s a playmaker who finishes really well at the basket.”
Braden Woods, a 6-2 junior forward, and 6-2 junior guard Caden Johnson were primarily junior varsity players a year ago.
Adding to the mix down low are 6-5 junior center Nick Back and 6-1 senior forward Braden Hitte, both varsity newcomers. Cameron Norton, a 6-0 senior guard, is a transfer from Lebanon who played reserve ball last season.
“I could see us going eight, nine deep, possibly 10,” Bales said. “The good part of it is that we could have six or seven different players lead us in scoring on any given night. I guess the bad side is, we don’t know who that will be.
“This is a quick team. Physicality is an area where I think we have a lot of work to do. This isn’t a 6 o’clock game anymore for a lot of these guys. It’s a 7:30 game, and that’s a big difference.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that can score in a lot of different ways. We’ve got guys we think can get to the cup, and we’ve got a lot of shooters around them.”
Bales said the program is loaded with talented juniors and freshmen, so for this year and beyond, he believes the future is bright.
Franklin will get thrown into the fire right away, opening the season at Brookville on Nov. 30. Those two teams shared the top spot in the preseason SWBL Southwestern coaches poll.
Coach: Brian Bales (12th season)
2017-18 Record: 17-6 overall, 10-2 SWBL Southwestern (first place, tied)
OHSAA Classification: Division I
Schedule: Nov. 30 — at Brookville, 7:15 p.m.; Dec. 4 — at West Carrollton, 7:15 p.m.; Dec. 7 — Oakwood, 7:15 p.m.; Dec. 11 — Monroe, 7:15 p.m.; Dec. 14 — at Bellbrook, 7:15 p.m.; Dec. 18 — Preble Shawnee, 7:15 p.m.; Dec. 21-23 — at Seahawk Holiday Classic at Hilton Head Island, S.C.; Jan. 4 — Valley View, 7:15 p.m.; Jan. 11 — at Eaton, 7:15 p.m.; Jan. 12 — at Northmont, 7:15 p.m.; Jan. 15 — at Monroe, 7:15 p.m.; Jan. 18 — Bellbrook, 7:15 p.m.; Jan. 22 — at Carlisle, 7:15 p.m.; Jan. 25 — Waynesville, 7:15 p.m.; Jan. 29 — Springboro, 7:15 p.m.; Feb. 1 — at Valley View, 7:15 p.m.; Feb. 2 — at Edgewood, 7:15 p.m.; Feb. 5 — Eaton, 7:15 p.m.; Feb. 8 — Brookville, 7:15 p.m.; Feb. 15 — at Oakwood, 7:15 p.m.