BRADFORD – Troy Myers wanted his team to be the aggressor and play with some tenacity.
Franklin Monroe did just that on Friday night as the progress the Jets have made in practice finally carried over to a game and they beat Bradford 66-41 in a Cross County Conference boys basketball contest.
“Our tenacity was better,” said Myers, whose team led throughout the entire game. “We talked about having a relentless effort, and we haven’t had that all year. Your kids, they have to figure out a way to operate relentlessly if you’re going to stay in big-time basketball games, and that’s what we’re working toward. That’s what our standard’s always been. Our guys know that. We’ve got some youth, but I think as the season is progressing, especially in practice, you’re starting to see a more relentless effort for the duration of the practice instead of just half or maybe three-quarter so then it shows up on game night the same way.”
From the opening tip the Jets showed that they were ready to play, and they built an 8-0 lead.
“I’m extremely happy because that might be the first or second time that’s happened this year,” Myers said of his team taking control early.
Josh Phillips finally broke Bradford’s scoreless drought almost four minutes into the contest, but Franklin Monroe was firmly in control at 12-4 through one quarter of play.
After Dialaquan Millhouse scored the first basket of the second quarter for Bradford, Franklin Monroe went on an 11-0 run to increase its lead to 23-6. The Jets led 27-12 at halftime and led by double digits the entire second half.
Bradford began the third quarter with a Parker Smith basket, but then Franklin Monroe went on another big run. The Jets again scored 11 consecutive points to push their lead to 38-14.
After struggling mightily in the first half, Bradford started to pick up some momentum late in the third quarter. Drew Patty drained a pair of 3-pointers as the Railroaders outscored the Jets 9-6 in the final minutes of the period to make it a 44-23 game.
“For my team it was a tale of two halves,” Bradford coach Mackenzie Perry said. “First half we looked scared. We didn’t come out the way we wanted to. The second half they had a little more fight in them. Unfortunately in basketball you can’t wait a whole half to get yourself together. You’ve got to do that right from the get-go, especially against the good teams. You can be out of it in a half.”
While Bradford finally started to show some fight, Myers said late in the third quarter was the one time when his team didn’t play relentlessly.
“Our whole focus tonight was how relentlessly can we play and be the best version of us,” Myers said. “I thought we were that for about three quarters. I thought the second half of the third quarter we got vulnerable, and we kind of took the foot off the gas. But we collected ourselves, and I thought they finished the game nicely.”
Both teams’ offenses played well in the fourth quarter with Franklin Monroe scoring 22 points and Bradford scoring 18 for a 66-41 final score.
Senior Zach Hyre and freshman Ethan Conley paced Franklin Monroe on Friday as they both recorded double-doubles. Hyre had 25 points and 12 rebounds while Conley had 21 points and 10 rebounds.
“Those are two really skilled players,” Perry said. “I think we did a better job, like I said, in the second half I think we did a better job of containing them.”
Also for the Jets, Bradey Hesler scored eight points, Parker Hesler scored three, Landon Peters scored three, Austin Brown scored two, Bryce Filbrun scored two, and Cade McGlinch scored two.
It was nice to see Hyre and Conley both playing well at the same time, Myers said. For the Jets to be successful they need that one-two punch with a strong supporting cast, he said.
“To get those guys to go together is going to be the key,” Myers said. “They understand what has to happen.”
Smith led Bradford with 15 points on Friday. Also for the Railroaders, Patty scored 11 points, Walker Branson scored six, Millhouse scored six, Phillips scored two, and Alex Swabb scored one.
While they’re a work in progress, the second half the Railroaders showed their potential, Perry said.
“I feel like when you’re trying to fix a mindset, that mindset is still there,” he said. “It takes about a couple years. It takes a season or a couple seasons to get them understanding that they can believe themselves, and we’re still fighting through that process. But I tell you, if my team that came out in that second half played like that the whole game and played like that the rest of the season, I see bright things in our future.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.