The New Franklin Lady Bulldogs basketball team felt it was their time Saturday in the championship game in the Class 2 District 7 Tournament against top-seeded Sturgeon.
After losing to Sturgeon three times during the regular season, the Lady Bulldogs felt they had closed the gap enough to possibly pull off the upset on Sturgeon’s home floor.
Unfortunately for the Lady Bulldogs, the Sturgeon girls had a different idea while overcoming a sluggish start in the first quarter for a 42-33 victory.
While the loss dropped New Franklin to 20-8 overall, head coach Chris McGowan said as the game got more physical his team had a hard time adjusting to that.
“They took us out of some of the looks we wanted and I also thought we missed some shots that we were comfortable taking,” McGowan said. “They also really rebounded well offensively which means we did not rebound well defensively. Anytime you give a team like that easy points that’s a big problem. I thought they got some easy points because of their rebounding. Defensively, I thought we played pretty well other than that part of it but that’s a big part of it.”
That and the fact that Sturgeon shot nine more free throws than New Franklin. While Sturgeon hit on 12 of 23 shots from the foul line for 52 percent, New Franklin was only 7 of 14 from the line for 50 percent.
Seniors Molly Gregory and Maddie Embree also worked their magic against New Franklin while scoring 15 and 11 points, respectively.
As for the scoring in the game for New Franklin, Jasmyne Boggs was the only player in double figures with 12 points. Aislinn Himmelberg and Madi Lyons each had nine while Aly Hundley chipped in three.
Although Sturgeon wound up winning by nine, it was New Franklin with the lead early in the ballgame by a score of 13-12 after one.
Of course a 8-0 run during a minute and a half stretch was just enough for the Lady Bulldogs to go up against Sturgeon. However over the final 1:53, Sturgeon outscored New Franklin 6-2 to cut the lead to one.
The Lady Bulldogs also controlled the second quarter for the first-three minutes to make it 16-15 with 4:58 left. However for the rest of the quarter, New Franklin couldn’t seem to find the basket while Sturgeon came back and reeled off eight straight points to lead at the half 23-16.
While going 1-for-11 from the field in the second quarter, New Franklin was still within striking distance of Sturgeon while trailing by only seven.
Unfortunately for the Lady Bulldogs, they continued to struggle from the field in the third quarter while missing on their first-five shots. But even then while struggling to score, New Franklin made it just close enough with a 6-0 run over the final two minutes and 50 seconds to cut the lead to five at 31-26 after three.
The Lady Bulldogs never got any closer than five points for the rest of the game as Sturgeon held a 11-7 scoring edge in the final period for the victory.
Despite being outscored 19-17 in the second half, McGowan said  the girls showed some resiliency. “Our group shows up and they keep working hard,” McGowan said. “It seems like we are kind of young and we go on stretches where we play well and I think that’s part of our youth. We get excited when things go well but when things go bad we get down on ourselves.”
As for the season, McGowan said the girls will look back at it was a successful year.
“Obviously anytime you lose the last game it hurts in a game you would like to think you can compete in and win, so we are disappointed with that,” McGowan said. “We were excited to get to the 20 win mark. It’s been a while since we have been there. I think there is no doubt we are going in the right direction but we can’t rest here, we have to continue to get better and hopefully next year we do some better things.”