The New Franklin boys junior high basketball team captured the championship in the CAC Tournament last Saturday in Cairo by beating the host team 35-30.
The Bulldogs, 8-0 on the season, trailed Cairo 19-17 at the half before rallying back with a 18-11 advantage in the second half for the victory.
New Franklin coach Jim Schlotzhauer said the boys gutted out a tough win to take home the trophy. “The boys had to fight tooth and nail for this win,” Schlotzhauer said. “Cairo’s zone was very tough to find openings against. I was very impressed with how they guarded us. There just weren’t many passing angels to be had on the floor. This was the first tight game we have had this year and we struggled to execute a bit, but we made enough plays to get the win. Playing in games like this will only help them improve going forward this year.”
Drake Clark had 14 points to lead all scorers for New Franklin. Tanner Bishop chipped in 13 while Connor Wilmsmeyer added three, Sawyer Felten and Rylan Hundley two each and Owen Curry with one.
Cairo was led by Dalton Taylor with 11.
In the semifinal round on Friday, New Franklin defeated Pilot Grove 60-23.
The Bulldogs never trailed in the game and led 33-11 at the half and 55-19 after three quarters of play.
Schlotzhauer said the boys started slow against Pilot Grove. “We really struggled to get anything going in the first quarter,” Schlotzhauer said. “That sluggish start didn’t continue in the second and third quarters. They put up 46 in two periods and really played well. Those were probably our best two quarters of the year.”
Drake Clark had the high game for New Franklin with 21 points. Tanner Bishop chipped in 18, followed by Owen Curry with eight, Rylan Hundley five, Connor Wilmsmeyer four and Ryan August and Dylan Wells each with two.
For Pilot Grove, Maddex Douglas had eight, Beau Walker seven, Ian Sprick six and Blake Gerke with two.
The Tigers played for the third place trophy, losing to Slater 68-29.
Slater led Pilot Grove 31-16 at the half and then outscored the Tigers 37-13 in the second half.
Brandon Terrill had 30 points and Kenyon Mennis 26 for Slater.
For Pilot Grove, Ian Sprick had 16, Beau Walker seven and Hayden Sleeper, Alec Schupp and Blake Gerke each with two points.
As for the Pilot Grove girls, they fell in the championship game against Cairo 55-25.
The Lady Tigers, 7-2 on the season, trailed Cairo 34-11 at the half and 49-16 after three quarters of play. However in the final period, Pilot Grove rallied back with a 8-6 scoring edge.
Pilot Grove coach Aly Wessing said it was a tough loss but was proud of the girls for finishing second.
Avery Brumley paced all scorers in the game for Cairo with 22 points.
For Pilot Grove, Brooke Lorenz had 12, Emma Sleeper 10 and Lauren Krumm with two.
In the game on Friday, the Pilot Grove girls outscored or matched Community R-6 in all four quarters for a 40-23 victory.
The Lady Tigers led Community R-6 21-11 at the half and 29-17 after three quarters of play. Meanwhile, in the final period, Pilot Grove outscored Community R-6 11-6 to win the game by 17.
Wessing said the girls came out aggressive and ready to play. “We ran into foul trouble in the first half but managed it better in the second,” Wessing said.
Emma Sleeper had the high game for Pilot Grove with 13 points. Brooke Lorenz chipped in 11 while Claire Rentel added seven, Ava Hoff five and Kayla Lorenz and Cloey Tavenner each with two.
As for the New Franklin girls, they won their consolation semifinal game against Slater on Friday by a score of 35-11 and then came back to beat Glasgow in the consolation finals on Saturday 29-23.
In the game against Slater, the Lady Bulldogs led 23-4 at the half and then outscored the Wildcats 12-7 in the final two periods.
New Franklin coach Morgan Vetter said the girls played much better against Slater. “I saw some confidence and some very good things,” Vetter said of the win.
Kebrea Fair had the game-high for New Franklin with 17 points. Emersyn Eads and Brooklyn Brown each chipped in five points while Brynn Belstle added four and Ella Oser and T. Kelley each with two.
In the game against Glasgow, Vetter said the Lady Bulldogs were down and came back for a very tough and strong finish. “The girls showed great signs of strength and maturity,” Vetter said. “I’m very prolud of them and their consolation finish in conference.”
The New Franklin girls are currently 4-4 overall.