After back to back seven win seasons, the New Franklin girls basketball team finally hit a new milestone Tuesday night on Senior Night against the Pilot Grove Tigers.
Although the Lady Bulldogs were less than perfect in the game, head coach Morgan Vetter was all about the milestone and the team hitting its free throws than anything.
As it turned out, New Franklin won the game over Pilot Grove 64-50 to improve to 14-9 overall and 4-4 in the Central Activities Conference. Pilot Grove dropped to 7-15 overall and 5-4 in the CAC.
“The biggest thing tonight, our goal the past two seasons we’ve won seven games so tonight we combined what we did in two years,” Vetter said. “That was kind of our excitement so now of course we want more to surpass that. We broke a milestone and that’s pretty big for us.”
The team hitting its free throws was also a big thing, especially in the first half as they were 10 of 14 for 71 percent. Of course New Franklin cooled off somewhat in the second half to finish the game 20 of 34 from the line for 58 percent.
Pilot Grove was 18 of 30 from the foul line for the game for 60 percent.
Vetter said the girls shoot free throws all the time in practice.
“Free throws has really been our nemesis the past couple of years,” Vetter said. “However, I think during this last little stretch we have grown more confident.”
That confidence definitely showed its face in the first half.
But even then it took some time for the Lady Bulldogs to get started. As for Pilot Grove, they jumped out on top with six straight points to start the game but then hit a lull with just three point over the final five minutes.
Of course the three-point line was New Franklin’s saving grace early on. While finishing with six for the game, the Lady Bulldogs also scored their first-six points on back to back threes by junior Madelyn Chaney and sophomore Abby Maupin.
A 10-0 run also helped New Franklin’s cause in the opening period, which led to a 15-9 lead after one.
Vetter said the three has been helping the Lady Bulldogs the last couple of games. “It makes teams actually defend us out further than the paint, which opens up things in the paint for us,” Vetter said. “Of course that’s a great thing because we haven’t had a three-point shooting threat in a while. That has helped a lot and the past couple of games-knock on wood-they have been very consistent.”
Of course Pilot Grove didn’t go down without a fight. While playing their best game of the season the night before at Cairo, the Lady Tigers kept the game within striking distance in the first half down by only eight (31-23).
New Franklin outscored Pilot Grove 16-14 in the second period.
Junior Natalie Glenn also scored the final six points of the quarter for Pilot Grove to cut the lead to five at 28-23. However, it was Chaney with a three at the buzzer from the top of the key to push the lead back up to eight.
Pilot Grove coach Linda Scott said Glenn had a career night and finished the game with a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds. She also had five steals.
“Natalie was everything for us tonight,” Scott said. “What a career night she had. Natalie never gives up on a play and is getting better every day.”
Pilot Grove also had it’s chances in the third quarter. Although New Franklin outscored Pilot Grove 15-12, the Lady Tigers had it down to three on two different occasions at 35-32 and 37-34 with the ball to cut it even more.
Of course Pilot Grove wasn’t counting on Addy Salmon or Maupin getting hot in the final two minutes and 48 seconds. Salmon scored six straight at one point while Maupin closed out the quarter with five in a row.
New Franklin led Pilot Grove 46-35 after three and then built on that lead in the fourth with a 17-15 advantage for the win.
Scott said this was a disappointing game for the Lady Tigers.
“We had played four solid games with the best game the night before against Cairo,” Scott said. “Our heads were not in the game.”
Maupin wound up with 22 points to lead all scorers for New Franklin. Chaney chipped in 18 while Salmon added 10, Carly Dorson six, Kristen Flick and Campbell Cooper three each and Faith Painter with two.
Natalie Rentel also scored in double figures for Pilot Grove with 10 points along with three rebounds and one assist.
Marci Lammers added four points, four steals, two assists and one rebound while Grace Phillips had four points, three rebounds and one assist, Abby Schupp four points and one rebound, Danae Lammers three points, two assists, one rebound and one steal, Leah Vollrath three points, two rebounds and one assist, Taylynn Heilman one point and Reagan McFatrich with three assists and one rebound.