The New Franklin boys basketball team fell short Wednesday night in a Class 2 Sectional game against the Skyline Tigers.
While both teams featured more underclassmen than upperclassman as starters in the sectional game at State Fair Community College in Sedalia, the Tigers had just enough in the end to beat the Bulldogs by a score of 63-54.
Skyline, 20-8 on the season, will now advance to the quarterfinal round of the state tournament on Saturday at Liberty North High School, where they will play Plattsburg, 21-8, starting at 1 p.m. Plattsburg beat Mid-Buchanan 58-56 in a sectional game Wednesday night at Staley High School.
In the girls sectional game Wednesday night at SFCC, Skyline knocked off Tipton 60-34. The Lady Tigers, 19-10, will play Mid-Buchanan, 24-5, in the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs at Liberty North on Saturday starting at 2:45 p.m. Mid-Buchanan won 55-30 in its sectional game at Staley High School on Wednesday against North Platte.
After the game against Skyline, New Franklin head coach Ross Dobson said he couldn’t have been happier with the boys effort last week and this week.
“We haven’t been in this position for 13 years, so you could kind of tell there were deer in the headlights a little,” Dobson said. “I will be honest, I was a little nervous to start the game but once that left I thought we guarded the crap out of them in the second half. The second quarter we outscored them but just kind of came out flat in the third. We had a couple of early turnovers that caused them to go on a run but if you look at the stats, we held them to give field goals the entire second half. We outscored them besides the third quarter. We only scored four points but we outscored them 26-24 in the fourth and again in the second but the third quarter really killed us.”
The first quarter was also “deer in the headlights” kind of moment as Skyline jumped on the Bulldogs for 16 points.
While the Bulldogs closed out the first quarter just 1 of 9 from the field, with junior Tyler Perkins scoring the only field goal of the period, Dobson said prior to starting the second period he told the players not to give up.
“I told them it’s a long basketball game and anything can happen and just come out and give it your all and try to knock them in the mouth,” Dobson said. “I thought that’s what we did. “We went on a 10-0 run and really fought back into it. After that we had the energy that we needed. Honestly it was just a few touch passes here and there and a couple of transition layups along with a three by Tyler Perkins to kind of get everybody motivated.”
The Bulldogs were plenty motivated in the second quarter with 10 straight points to start the period to cut the lead to three at 16-13 with 5:07 left. Then, with 55 seconds left in the half, Perkins cut the lead even more by hitting two foul shots to trim the lead to one at 25-24. However with 1.3 seconds left on the clock, freshman Jadyn Foster came back with a basket for the Tigers to make it a three point ballgame at the half at 27-24.
The good news is that New Franklin outscored Skyline 21-11 in the second quarter to get back in the ballgame.
The bad new is that in the third quarter the Tigers held New Franklin to just four points on 2 of 11 shooting to extend the lead back to double digits at 39-28. The Bulldogs also missed on four point blank shots in the third that would have cut Skyline’s lead in half had the shots went in.
But even then New Franklin made a game of it in the fourth with eight straight points to cut the lead to three at 39-36 with 6:21 left. A two by junior Jackson Dorson and back to back threes by junior Gavin Bishop is all it took for the Bulldogs to get back in the ballgame.
Unfortunately for New Franklin, they never got any closer in the ballgame as Skyline closed out the final five minutes and 51 seconds by hitting 22 of 27 free throws to win the game by nine.
The Bulldogs also outscored Skyline 26-24 in the fourth and had the lead down to five after two free throws by Perkins to make it 57-52 with 36 seconds left. But over the last 30 seconds, Skyline would hold a 6-2 advantage.
Dobson said he knew Skyline was pretty tough from the free throw line.
“We were trying to get it out of a couple of those kids hands,” Dobson said. “We didn’t want it in Foster’s hands because we knew he shot well. When the team shoots that well there is not much you can do. They had one field goal in the fourth quarter but they made their free throws and congrats to them because to win a ballgame, that’s what you have to do. We just couldn’t get over the hump all night but I thought we fought back. I am very proud of these boys. Once again we haven’t won a district title in a long time and we did that and they played for a sectional game for the first time ever.
“One of our oldest coaches at New Franklin, Errol Spratt, would say anytime you can get 20 wins that’s a hell of a season and then having coach Dowell sitting next to me and getting those 20 wins makes it even better. We set our bar where we want to get every single year, especially with four guys coming back. This group here has really set the tone down the road that’s for sure.”
Lawson Beem led three players in double figures for Skyline with 22 points while Daxton Beem added 19 and Jaytin DeFreece with 14.
For New Franklin, Perkins had 16 to lead all scorers. Bishop tossed in 13 while Jackson Dorson added eight, Tysen Dowell and Carter Bailey each with five points, Kolby Anson four and Trevian Cowans with three.
Skyline also finished the game shooting 83 percent from the foul line by hitting 29 of 35 shots while New Franklin connected on 10 of 15 shots for 67 percent.