PITSBURG – Before his team’s game against Tri-County North, who only has a single win this year, coach Troy Myers reminded his team about a lesson from November.
“Back in November I told this team that we cannot take anyone lightly,” the Franklin Monroe boys basketball coach said. “We have to bring it every night. We need to take this season one game at a time.”
And Franklin Monroe would have to “bring it” in the fourth quarter as North closed to within three points late in the contest. It was a game where the Jets seemed to have things in hand entering the fourth quarter, but North had other ideas.
In the friendly confines of the hanger, Franklin Monroe shot well in the first quarter. North quickly settled into a zone, and the Jets were able to work the perimeter against the Panther zone and connect from the outside. That led to a comfortable 18-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Jets used a man-to-man defense all night long. They mixed in some full-court pressure as well. This defense lends itself well to rebounding, and the Jets hit the defensive boards hard – limiting North to just one shot on most possessions. And when North’s post player, Kurt Brinson, got his third foul in the second quarter that gave the Jets more latitude in attacking the basket.
North played a zone defense all night – making a change to a trapping zone in the fourth quarter.
Mason Conley hit a shot just before halftime to give the Jets a 31-23 lead at the half. And the Jets kept the beat going – shooting both inside and outside to extend their lead in the third quarter.
A frustrated North coaching staff was tagged with a technical foul to add to the Panthers’ woes. By quarter’s end the Jets were up by double digits and seemed poised to cruise to the finish line.
But North changed to a trapping zone defense in the last stanza. And maybe it was the defense or maybe the Jets got complacent with the comfortable lead – but North began to chip away at the Jets.
The Panthers outscored the Jets at the start of the quarter, and the trapping defense was getting turnovers. The Jets went into a slow down about midway through the last quarter. But the North run was not finished, and the Panthers closed to within three, 48-45.
But with the game on the line, the Jets offense woke up, and they went on a 7-0 run of their own in the last two minutes to close out the game and preserve the win: 55-45.
“We had chances to put them away in the second half, and we didn’t do it,” Coach Myers said. “But you have to give them credit, they threw a 1-3-1 defense at us and increased the pressure. And this is what it is all about – how you handle the pressure. You have to find a way to win and we did.”
“We slowed down the game at the end of the fourth quarter,” Myers said of about the end of the game. “We spread them out in an attempt to get them out of their zone – but they adjusted. We weren’t as strong as we needed to be, and we made some turnovers. But we need to learn from our mistakes – watch film and build on what we need to do. We did have three players score in double-figures, and that is a positive.”
Who has improved the most from the beginning of the season to now?
“I would have to give the nod to senior Bradey Hesler,” Myers said. “He is a different player from what he was in the first four games of the season. He is playing with a lot more confidence – he has become our second or third scorer. His game has really evolved; he has come a long way.”
Scoring for Franklin Monroe: Kyle Ressler 4, Landon Peters 2, Ethan Conley 17, Zach Hyre 13, Mason Conley 6, Bradey Hesler 13.