The New Franklin Lady Bulldogs basketball team did everything they could to throw a wrench into the works Tuesday night against the league-leading Pilot Grove Tigers.
But if there is one thing that has kept the Lady Bulldogs from reaching their potential all season it’s free throws.
Such was the case again on Tuesday as New Franklin converted on just 19 of 36 shots for 53 percent while Pilot Grove hit on 11 of 24 shots for 46 percent.
The loss dropped New Franklin to 3-11 overall and 0-4 in the CAC while Pilot Grove improved to 12-1 overall and 4-0 in the conference.
“I think the biggest thing we saw in the girls in an energy and a spark,” said New Franklin coach Morgan Vetter. “Everybody wanted to be here so that was a good feeling because we haven’t had that feeling since the Glasgow Tournament. Free throws has been our story forever so we really need to work on that but as far as energy and momentum I was happy about that.”
The Lady Bulldogs have also been close in about every game this season. Vetter said except for a hand full of games this season, New Franklin has dropped 8 of 11 games by single digits.
“That’s the column we keep,” Vetter said. “It’s not like we are getting blown out. That’s what we are building off of. If we lose at least we are going to keep it to single digits.”
As for the Lady Tigers, they just keep winning night in and night out.
Although head coach Linda Scott wasn’t particularly happy with the play for 32 minutes, she said after the game that you could tell they hadn’t been on the floor in five days.
“There were a number of factors that allowed New Franklin to keep the game close,” Scott said. “I thought we had heavy feet along with cold shooting and then foul problems all night. We also allowed New Franklin 36 free throws. We started out with quickness, life in our legs and great effort and I thought we looked really good on both ends of the floor. Then the effort stopped on defense. We got in foul problems because we stopped moving our feet. It’s a different beat any time you give up 36 free throws. Emily Schupp and Melanie Wolfe scored well for us. Grace Phillips hit key free throws for us with the game on the line. Grace is really playing well on both ends of the court.”
So were the Lady Tigers early in the ballgame after reeling off the game’s first 11 points. However from the 2:35 mark for the rest of the first quarter, Pilot Grove went into hibernation while New Franklin came out of its slump after starting 0 for 3 from the field with 7 turnovers by reeling off nine unanswered points to cut the lead to two at 11-9.
That quarter pretty much summed up the entire game as Pilot Grove looked dominant at times but could never pull away while leading New Franklin 14-9 after first period’s end and 24-17 at the break.
The Lady Tigers also opened the second quarter with five straight points only to have New Franklin closeout the half with a free throw by Lauren Evans and a basket by Shelby Breshears to cut it back to single digits.
The Lady Bulldogs also dominated the third quarter by outscoring New Franklin 16-9 to tie the game at 33-all.
With Pilot Grove’s best shooter on the bench with four fouls at the 1:54 mark, New Franklin also went 8-0 run during a stretch to lead for the first time at 29-28.
But with senior Emily Schupp on the bench in foul trouble, senior Melanie Wolfe stepped up along with freshman Grace Phillips to build a four point lead at 44-40 with 1:30 left.
New Franklin still made it interesting down the stretch by cutting the lead to one at 45-44 on a basket by Abby Maupin with 19.8 seconds remaining. However, after a free throw by Phillips to make it 46-44, the Lady Bulldogs turned the ball over at the worst possible time with 11 seconds left. Wolfe then sealed the coffin shut with another basket with 9 seconds left for the victory.
Despite playing with four fouls in the fourth quarter, Schupp still managed to lead Pilot Grove with 22 points along with five steals, four rebounds and one assist.
Wolfe finished the game with 12 points, five rebounds and three blocked shots while Phillips added seven points, three steals, two rebounds and two assists, Chloe Schlotzhauer two points, four rebounds and one assist, Reagan McFatrich two points, two rebounds and one assist, Natalie Rentel two points, one rebound and one steal, Natalie Glenn one point, one rebound and one steal and Abby Schupp with two assists, one steal and one rebound.
For New Franklin, Abby Maupin had the high game with 15 points while Shelby Breshears chipped in 13, Lauren Evans 10, Madelyn Chaney four and Kristen Flick with two.