FRANKLIN — The Franklin High School girls basketball team returned to action Saturday afternoon after a two-week break and showed that, yes, it’s still pretty good.
The Wildcats didn’t come out blazing, but gradually got cranked up and conquered visiting Monroe 52-34 to remain unbeaten in Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division play.
“We had a lot of rust,” admitted junior forward Brooke Stover, who contributed six points and eight rebounds to the Franklin cause. “We kicked it into gear after halftime and kind of got our rhythm going. I feel like we all bond together. We’re very tight. Once we’re on the floor, we just know what to do.”
Layne Ferrell tallied 18 points, 13 rebounds, four blocks and four assists for the Wildcats, who are 9-2 overall and 8-0 in the SWBL. Jordan Rogers tossed in nine points.
Franklin remained 1.5 games ahead of Valley View — which is 10-2, 6-1, after defeating Oakwood 65-52 on Saturday — in the Southwestern standings. Monroe fell to 8-3, 4-3.
“We looked like we’d been off for two weeks at the beginning,” Wildcats coach John Rossi said. “As a coach, you’re a little concerned when you don’t play for two weeks. But our schedule was front-loaded with a couple Classic and showcase-type games, and then it’s back-loaded with a couple big games at the end too.
“If we had gotten our butts kicked today, I probably would’ve been looking at next year’s schedule and making sure we were getting a game somewhere during Christmas break. But we persevered. Our kids have got a lot of experience. It’s not their first rodeo. They responded when they had to.”
Franklin started the game by going nearly six minutes without a field goal, yet still led 8-5 at the first stop and 21-13 at halftime.
The Hornets kicked off the second half with a 3-pointer by Olivia Wells-Daniels and a fast-break layup by Sam Schwab to chop the deficit to 21-18, but the Wildcats responded by scoring 17 of the next 21 points. Treys by Skyler Weir and Rogers were ignitors in that FHS surge.
“We didn’t execute real well on offense. We missed a lot of easy shots and didn’t shoot free throws real well (7-of-14),” Rossi said. “But we only turned the ball over 11 times, and the kids played with a little bit of mental toughness. Monroe does a lot of physical things to you that really take you out of your offense.
“We switched to a 2-3 zone after that slow start, and that helped out a lot. We feel our bread and butter is our man-to-man defense, but the older I get, I guess I get a little bit smarter and listen to my assistant coaches, and we try to make some adjustments. The biggest adjustment today was the zone.”
Rossi liked the contributions he got from his bench, especially Kaylee Harris (six points, four rebounds, one steal), Kristin Earles (a 3-pointer) and Emma Bicknell (two points, one assist, one steal).
“They’ve accepted decisions the coaches are making for the betterment of the team,” Rossi said. “Emma Bicknell missed four or five games (with shin splints), she’s a senior, she doesn’t start, but she comes in and dives for loose balls, she gets deflections. It might be for a minute, it might be for three minutes, but we ask her to give that energy and she does. She’s bought into that role.”
Monroe shot poorly throughout the day, leaving Hornets coach Chad Allen somewhat exasperated. But he wasn’t surprised by what has been an ongoing problem.
“I think that our defense was really solid for the whole game,” Allen said. “We just leave so many opportunities on the floor offensively. We’re not going to beat a good team scoring 30 points. We’re a varsity team that can’t make a layup, and then to compound that, we’re a varsity team that can’t make a 3-pointer. Other than not making layups and 3-pointers, we’re pretty good offensively.
“You should not have an experienced varsity team missing layups and going 1-for-17 from the 3-point line. The only way to fix it is to work harder in practice on those shots. Every shot’s got to be harder than the game shot. Their effort in practice has to be harder than the game.
“Thankfully I’ve got a bunch of girls that know that and will give that effort, but I’ve got to make sure I demand that of them. That’s on me.”
Wells-Daniels (nine points, 13 rebounds) and Sophie Sloneker (nine points, five boards) led Monroe, which also lost to Franklin 42-27 on Dec. 6. Alyssa Beckett had five points and 10 rebounds.
The Wildcats will travel to Miamisburg on Monday, while the Hornets visit Valley View on Thursday.
MONROE (8-3, 4-3 SWBL Southwestern): Sophie Sloneker 1 7 9; Kylee Slone 1 0 2; Alyssa Beckett 1 3 5; Sam Schwab 2 0 4; Olivia Wells-Daniels 4 0 9; Brooke Frazier 1 0 2; Rylen Carroll 0 1 1; Briana Rose 1 0 2. Totals: 11-11-34
FRANKLIN (9-2, 8-0 SWBL Southwestern): Jordan Rogers 3 2 9; Skyler Weir 1 0 3; Layne Ferrell 6 4 18; Brooke Stover 3 0 6; Emily Newton 1 1 3; Karsen Quillen 1 0 2; Kaylee Harris 3 0 6; Emma Bicknell 1 0 2; Kristin Earles 1 0 3. Totals: 20-7-52
3-pointers: M 1 (Wells-Daniels), F 5 (Ferrell 2, Rogers, Earles, Weir)