UNION CITY – Franklin-Monroe came from 13 points down in the second half by creating opportunities for easy points from their defense and getting to the free throw line to escape with a 63-58 hard fought win over Mississinawa Valley on Friday night.
Mississinawa Valley played almost a near perfect first quarter by getting out to an 18-8 lead. Will Hall and Blake Scholl both had 4 points each, Trent Collins 2, and DJ Howell 8 in the paint.
Howell’s play inside earned the respect of Franklin-Monroe coach Troy Myers.
“He’s a hard cover because he’s a really good player. He’s a bully in the paint, you can tell your kids to stand in there and take one, it’s a lot harder than you think. He’s pretty smart with the way he plays, he doesn’t go too hard and gets his trunk in good position to carve out space and then lay it in. If you front him, he’s going to seal really well, and they’re going to get a baseline feed, so we just tried to play solid behind him,” Myers said.
Mississinawa executed its offense well in the first half and was able to keep the Jets from pushing the tempo the way they wanted, taking a 29-21 lead at the break.
Even though Franklin-Monroe trailed at the half Myers was pleased with his defense, which is a credit to how well Mississinawa played in the first half.
“Defensively we have to create our own juice, we’re not able to slow the pace down to play well in a half court set. MV did a good job grinding us in the half court, our defensive effort was good at the half, we just needed to keep doing what we do in the second half,” Myers stated.
The offense continued to click early in the third quarter for Mississinawa and when Blake Scholl drained a triple at the 5 minute mark the lead grew to 13 points, 38-25.
Over the next five minutes FM’s pace and pressure started to affect the play of Mississinawa, and they would nearly erase the 13-point deficit trailing 43-42.
Franklin-Monroe cut the lead to 3 at 38-35 before senior Trent Collins hit a deep corner three and followed it up with a layup to extend the lead back to 8 at 43-35, but the Jets just kept coming.
Ethan Conley’s presence was felt as the senior scored 14 of his game-high 32 points in the period, including some big defensive plays. His block on Josh Fett’s lay-up off the backboard led to a fast-break on the other end that he turned into a hard 3-pointer. He followed it up with a triple at the buzzer to end the third quarter to trail by just one.
“I felt really good about how we responded once we got down by 13,” Myers said.
“Tim (MV coach Tim Barga) is such a good coach and when he gets a lead it’s really hard to take it away. That’s one of the reasons we didn’t want to play in a half-court game because they are so methodical, once their up they’ll grind the clock down, I didn’t want to go into the fourth quarter and face that,” Myers stated.
The atmosphere at the Nest was electric in the fourth quarter with both teams making big plays with emotions flowing backing forth across the court as the lead changed hands six times.
With the Jets leading 57-55, Collins connected on a deep corner three to put MV in front 58-57 with just over a minute to go, but that would be the last time they would score.
FM got some big time free throws down the stretch from Ky Cool as the young man made 6-of-6 in the last minute to take the lead and extend it as the Jets went on to claim the 63-58 Cross Country Conference win.
Ethan Conley gets a lot of the headlines for Franklin-Monroe, and why not, the senior is averaging 32 points per game, but maybe bigger than his 32 points on the night was the play of Luke Booher and Ky Cool.
“We got tremendous play and spark from Luke Booher in the third and fourth quarter,” praised Myers. “Booher was huge for us, he got big steals down the stretch. Our focus before the game was to pressure the wings and try to get some turnovers. I didn’t feel like we got many until the fourth quarter and that was due to Luke getting into the passing lanes, he was big-time for us.”
Ky Cool looked more like “Cool Hand Luke” down the stretch, scoring the last six points in the game, all at the free throw line.
“Ky was another key contributor in this game,” Myers stated. “Obviously, his free throws in the crunch as a freshman were big, but the amount of balls he got his hands on, deflected or stole, was maybe even bigger than the free throws at the end. You kind of forget that at the end because it’s always the most critical part of the game.” .
Booher and Cool both had 6 points on the night, Connor Crist 11 and Jordan Rhoades 8 to go along with Conley’s 32. The Jets improved to 7-6 overall and 4-3 in the conference and will play at Milton-Union next Friday.
Mississinawa was led by Howell with 16 points, Collins 14 and Blake Scholl 13. The ‘Hawks fall to 4-7 and 3-3 and they will play at Bradford next Friday.
The win halts a two game skid and was a must win to get the Jets back on flight plan.
“I’m not going to make excuses. Our thing is discipline leads to achievement and we haven’t been for a couple of games here. Our kids are trying to figure it out and I’m not sure if they know what that means on the floor. They’re trying to make an effort in film and practice, that’s all you can ask honestly, and they have to go out and apply it in the game,” Myers concluded.
Score by quarters
Franklin-Monroe – Cool 0-0-6/7 – 6, Rhoades 0-3-2/3 – 8, C. Crist 0-5-1/2 – 11, Booher 0-1-4/6 – 6, Conley 1-8-13/20 – 32. Totals 1-17-26/36 – 63.
Mississinawa Valley – Hall 0-3-0/0 – 6, Collins 2-4-0/0 – 14, Guillozet 1-0-0/0 – 3, Fett 0-2-0/2 – 4, Dirksen 0-1-0/0 – 2, B. Scholl 3-2-0/0 – 13, Howell 0-8-0/1 – 16. Totals 6-20-0/3 – 58.
3-pointers: Franklin-Monroe 1 (Conley 1), Mississinawa Valley 6 (Scholl 3, Collins 2, Guillozet 1).
Records: Franklin-Monroe (7-6, 4-3 CCC), Mississinawa Valley (4-7, 3-3 CCC)
JV Game: Mississinawa Valley 47, Franklin Monroe 41