SWBL TIME: League rivals Franklin, Valley View brace for Round 3 in Division II regional

Franklin junior forward Kaylee Harris is averaging 3.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game this season for the Wildcats, who will face Valley View in a Division II regional semifinal at Springfield on Tuesday night. RICK CASSANO/STAFF
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Franklin junior forward Kaylee Harris is averaging 3.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game this season for the Wildcats, who will face Valley View in a Division II regional semifinal at Springfield on Tuesday night. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

FRANKLIN — Last year’s trip to the Division II regional was historic and painful for Franklin High School’s girls basketball team.

A 42-27 loss to Bellbrook was the result of the Wildcats’ first-ever regional appearance. But now they’re back.

“Even though the result wasn’t what we liked, it gave us an opportunity. It’s a good foundation to have played in that game,” Franklin coach John Rossi said. “I learned a long time ago that sometimes you’ve got to lose one before you win one. So hopefully we can draw on the experience.”

» GAME 2: Franklin celebrates SWBL title with emphatic win

The Wildcats (21-4) will meet Southwestern Buckeye League rival Valley View (19-7) in a 6:15 p.m. regional semifinal Tuesday at Springfield. Carroll (24-2) faces Bloom-Carroll (16-10) at 8 p.m., with the regional title game set for 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

It’s Round 3 for Franklin and Valley View — the SWBL Southwestern Division champion Wildcats beat the Spartans 61-58 on Dec. 13 and 55-45 on Feb. 4.

“Valley View’s working hard right now, so we have to work harder,” Franklin junior forward Kaylee Harris said. “They seem more energized than the last time we played them. They’re kind of feeling like we felt last year, really excited to be where they’re at.”

The Spartans do have some regional history, but it goes back quite a long time.

Valley View made it to the Class AA regional twice, losing to Tippecanoe (68-58) in 1986-87 and splitting two games in 1985-86, defeating Pomeroy Meigs (55-49) and losing to Finneytown (48-40).

Spartans coach Steve Dickson admitted he wouldn’t have expected this kind of run before the season. He knew he had some talent, but there’s only one senior (Chloe Smith) on the roster.

“I thought we’d be pretty good, but I knew how good our league was going to be, and I knew how good our sectional always is,” Dickson said. “Having two SWBL teams here is great. How can you not say we have one of the best leagues in Division II in the area? I don’t want to play Franklin again, but we have no choice, so let’s play.”

SWBL Southwestern Player of the Year Layne Ferrell, a senior headed for the University of Akron, is averaging 20.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2.5 steals and 2.3 blocks per game.

Not surprisingly, she totaled 49 points in the first two meetings with Valley View.

“There’s a reason why Layne Ferrell is the best player in the district,” Dickson said. “We’re worried about Layne, but it’s not just stopping her anymore. Those other guards have been stepping it up. (Jordan) Rogers and (Skyler) Weir really hurt us earlier in the year.”

Weir fired in a career-high 17 points in the first meeting. She added 11 in Game 2, with Rogers marking 15 in that contest.

The Spartans have a balanced attack with offensive skill throughout the starting five. Franklin probably has a slight edge in the depth department.

Dickson said his squad is taking a “Why not us?” attitude into the regional.

“If they didn’t think that way, we’d be in the wrong place,” he said. “They have a little attitude going into this game. We shot ourselves in the foot the first time. The second time, they just beat us. We can’t make any excuses about not playing well because we played decent that game too. Now it’s just a matter of playing a little bit better, and I think we can do it.”

Rossi said the Valley View team he sees now is shooting the ball with extreme confidence. He saw that earlier in the year as well — the Spartans hit 12 treys in their game at Valley View.

“They take a lot of 3s, so we’re going to have to really get ’em off that line,” Rossi said. “I think whoever comes out with the most energy and can execute, the confidence is going to go that way.

“Hats off to them for winning a district championship. It’s a great thing for our league. But we have to look at it like they’re in our way right now, and they’re trying to put a roadblock out. I feel like we’re going to have to play our best basketball game of the year Tuesday.”

The Wildcats struggled offensively for much of their district final against Tippecanoe, but they rallied to win 49-39. Ferrell tallied 21 of her 31 points in the final period.

“We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel this late in the year,” Rossi said. “We may tweak a few things, but for the most part, we’ve got to defend it, we’ve got to value it and we’ve got to rebound it. Those are the three components we talk about day after day.”

Harris is one of Franklin’s role players with the ability to impact games. In four tournament victories, she’s had nine points, 18 rebounds, five steals, five blocks and an assist as the sixth man.

“When I go in, I try to bring energy,” Harris said. “I’m not a big scorer, but I try to get everybody else up and make the extra pass and play really good defense. I like to play defense. I’ve never been a big offensive player. The coaches have been trying to get me to look to shoot more … sometimes it’s easier than others.”

Harris said coming off the bench isn’t a problem for her. She likes to get a feel for the game. It helps her prepare to jump right in when her number is called.

“She’s been getting starter’s minutes,” Rossi said. “She went through a little injury bug this year, but she’s been able to overcome it, and she’s playing her best basketball as our season is progressing. She’s one of those kids that realizes what her role is. She does a lot of the dirty work that doesn’t show up in the box score.

“Kaylee’s a kid that’s got a great attitude and is very coachable and a great teammate. Those are the three characteristics we talk about within our program. She gives us a spark because of her energy and effort. In my two years, she’s probably the hardest-working kid that I’ve coached here at Franklin High School.”

It’s been a long season for any teams still alive at this point. Harris said the coaches have made sure the Wildcats are well-conditioned physically and mentally for the long haul.

“About midseason, it started getting kind of tiring,” she said. “We started taking a couple days off and did more team bonding. Now it’s just exciting. It’s not tiring anymore. We’re all excited to get in the gym and work every day.”

Here are the box scores from the first two Franklin-Valley View games this season:

Dec. 13, 2018

At Valley View

Franklin 61, Valley View 58

Franklin 9-16-20-16—61

Valley View 13-12-18-15—58

FRANKLIN (61): Jordan Rogers 2 0 4; Skyler Weir 6 0 17; Layne Ferrell 12 8 32; Brooke Stover 1 0 2; Emily Newton 2 0 4; Kaylee Harris 1 0 2. Totals: 24-8-61

VALLEY VIEW (58): Abigail Dickson 3 4 11; Chloe Smith 2 0 6; Claire Henson 4 3 11; Aubrey Stupp 4 1 13; Lauren Legate 5 0 14; Megan Black 1 0 3. Totals: 19-8-58

3-pointers: F 5 (Weir 5), V 12 (Stupp 4, Legate 4, Smith 2, Black, Dickson)

Feb. 4, 2019

At Franklin

Franklin 55, Valley View 45

Valley View 5-9-19-12—45

Franklin 13-11-16-15—55

VALLEY VIEW (45): Abigail Dickson 2 5 10; Chloe Smith 1 0 3; Claire Henson 1 3 5; Aubrey Stupp 4 1 9; Lauren Legate 5 0 13; Megan Black 1 0 3; Aiden Valenti 1 0 2. Totals: 15-9-45

FRANKLIN (55): Jordan Rogers 5 4 15; Skyler Weir 3 2 11; Layne Ferrell 4 8 17; Brooke Stover 3 2 8; Emily Newton 1 2 4. Totals: 16-18-55

3-pointers: V 6 (Legate 3, Dickson, Black, Smith), F 5 (Weir 3, Rogers, Ferrell)