“It was really intense, and we had a lot of fans out here. It was great,” said Monroe junior guard Sophie Sloneker, who had 11 points and five rebounds. “When you have that environment in the gym and so many kids cheering for you, it just makes you want to play that much harder. I think that’s what we did. We were fighting the whole game.”
Olivia Wells-Daniels contributed 11 points and seven points for the balanced Hornets, who got 8 points apiece from Kylee Slone, Erica Thompson and Jahsalyn Robinson.
It was the fourth straight win for Monroe, which stands 12-5 overall and 5-4 in the SWBL Southwestern Division. The Hornets have been victorious in nine of their last 10 games.
“What I like — and coaches always say it — is that we’re a true team,” Monroe coach Chad Allen said. “Everybody that’s on the floor is going to play pretty good defense, we’re going to focus on rebounding, and our scoring is usually going to be balanced. We don’t know each night who’s going to be our leading scorer. That’s not a bad thing.
“One of the keys tonight was the way we shared the ball in the fourth quarter. Lots of assists, getting to the basket and being ready to shoot the ball.”
The Hornets took a 58-41 early-season loss at the hands of Franklin last month, but Monroe has evolved into a different team. Certainly it didn’t hurt when Wells-Daniels, a sophomore transfer from Middletown, became eligible in Game 12.
“The first time we played Franklin, we were young, inexperienced, adjusting, and we didn’t have Olivia,” Allen said. “Now the girls are six games into Olivia playing, and we’re starting to get adjusted to what she can do and what the rest of the girls can do.”
Franklin (11-5, 4-4) got 25 points and 11 rebounds from Layne Ferrell, the SWBL’s scoring leader. The Wildcats’ problem was that only two players had points — Jordan Rogers and Brooke Stover tallied 8 apiece.
The visitors had a 30-26 lead as the third quarter was winding down. The Hornets ended the period with a 6-point burst, including a 3-pointer by Robinson, and never trailed again.
“We had them right where we wanted them,” Franklin coach John Rossi said. “We missed a couple easy ones, they go on a little run, and the next thing you know it just snowballed.
“I thought our kids played hard, but give Monroe credit. They’re a lot better with Wells-Daniels in there. If we’re playing a 24-minute game, we probably come out on top. But we weren’t able to finish the deal tonight, so they deserve the credit.”
Rossi said it’s obvious that his team needs more players in the scoring column.
“Our motion offense is set up for everybody to get shots. Right now, we’re running our motion offense so Layne can get shots, and that’s not what good ball teams do,” Rossi said. “We’re asking her to do an awful lot, and I just think our kids have the mentality that they’re just standing around watching her because she’s that good.”
Ferrell was 12 of 14 at the line and converted six field goals. Allen liked the defensive work by Robinson and freshman Brooke Frazier against the junior guard.
Frazier also scored 4 of her 5 points in the last stanza for the Hornets. Robinson added five rebounds.
“We wanted to get some fresh legs out there and Brooke’s the fastest girl we have, so we put her on Layne in the fourth quarter,” Allen said. “Brooke was just full court trying to wear her out, and I think it worked. I know Layne scored 25, but it was a tough 25. I think she really had to earn it.
“Our girls did a great job defensively trying to stand their ground and rebounding in the second half. Our focus going in was making sure their role players didn’t beat us. We were trying to play solid on Layne, but we had to shut those role players down. They beat us the first time we played them.”
Monroe handed Valley View its only loss last weekend, but the Hornets trail the Spartans by three games in the Southwestern standings, so a SWBL title isn’t likely. But Allen said there’s no reason why his team can’t make a run in the Division II postseason.
“We’re definitely bonding more and more,” Sloneker said. “We’re obviously a lot more confident in ourselves. Every time we have practice we’re just encouraging each other, and it makes a heck of a difference on the court during the games.”
Both teams will have nonleague home games Monday. Monroe meets Cincinnati Christian, while Franklin faces Milton-Union.
FRANKLIN (11-5, 4-4 SWBL Southwestern): Jordan Rogers 2 3 8, Layne Ferrell 6 12 25, Brooke Stover 4 0 8. Totals: 12-15-41
MONROE (12-5, 5-4 SWBL Southwestern): Kylee Slone 4 0 8, Sophie Sloneker 4 3 11, Erica Thompson 4 0 8, Jahsalyn Robinson 3 1 8, Olivia Wells-Daniels 4 2 11, Brooke Frazier 2 1 5. Totals: 21-7-51
3-pointers: F 2 (Rogers, Ferrell), M 2 (Robinson, Wells-Daniels)