PITSBURG – The rematch between Franklin Monroe and Mississinawa Valley was much closer than their first matchup of the season as the Jets won by a single point, 56-55, in a Cross County Conference boys basketball game on Tuesday.
Franklin Monroe and Mississinawa Valley met at the end of the December in the semifinals of the Jet Holiday Tournament in Pitsburg with FM winning by 22 points, 74-52. Tuesday’s rematch came down the final buzzer with MV missing a potential game-winning shot at the end of the fourth quarter.
“I’m proud of the fact that we clawed back and won when we were down a couple times, but I just think the team needs to be tougher more consistently right now,” Franklin Monroe boys basketball coach Troy Myers said.
Myers and Mississinawa Valley coach Tim Barga both saw some positives from their teams on Tuesday, but they both left the court thinking about missed opportunities. Barga referenced several missed chances that could have turned the game in Mississinawa’s favor though ultimately he was pleased that his team showed so much improvement since the last time it played Franklin Monroe.
“I’m pretty proud of these boys,” Barga said. “They come out tonight and played hard. For getting beat by 20-some points the first time, they done a nice job tonight.”
The first quarter was dominated by Mississinawa Valley’s Ethan Bowman and Franklin Monroe’s Ethan Conley. Bowman scored 10 points in the first quarter while Conley scored 9 in the period, which ended with MV leading 15-11.
Mississinawa Valley adjusted its defense to shut down Conley in the second quarter, which opened up scoring opportunities for his teammates. Five Jets combined for 23 points in the quarter as they turned a 4-point deficit into a 7-point lead, 34-27.
“Our guys understand that our team needs to be balanced,” Myers said. “Ethan understands that we need to be balanced, but I thought he did a really good job in the first half with his eyes up. And then once he scored and then the doubles came, he was getting the ball out and getting it moved. I thought that was really good.”
The final two minutes of the first half in particular proved to be crucial to the outcome of Tuesday’s game. Leading 25-23, Franklin Monroe outscored Mississinawa Valley 9-4 over the final couple minutes of the half.
“It’s just like I told them guys, we didn’t get beat at the end; we got beat the last two minutes of the second quarter,” Barga said.
Franklin Monroe’s hot streak continued in the opening minutes of the third quarter. The Jets scored 6 of the first 8 points in the half to increase their advantage to a game-high 11 points, 40-29.
The momentum quickly shifted, however, as Mississinawa Valley outscored Franklin Monroe 11-3 over the course of the final five minutes of the quarter to reduce its deficit to 43-40.
“I think one thing is they were scoring so it took away a little bit of the opportunity for us to get the ball out and go with an advantage,” Myers said. “When they score they can get five back quicker than we can get the ball out of bounds and go so I think that had something to do with it. I also think that we weren’t in attack mode like we were in the first half.”
Mississinawa Valley maintained the upper hand at the beginning of the fourth quarter and quickly took a 44-43 lead – its first since midway through the second quarter. With less than four minutes left in the game, Mississinawa was on a 19-5 run and led 48-45.
With 2:35 remaining, Bryce Filbrun drained a 3-pointer for his first points of the night and put Franklin Monroe up 50-49. The Jets led the rest of the game, but the Blackhawks were within striking distance the entire time.
With just 10 seconds to go, Bowman scored to pull Mississinawa within 1 point, 56-55. However, he fouled out on Franklin Monroe’s ensuing inbound play and had to watch the end of the game from the bench.
Following the foul, Franklin Monroe missed both of its double-bonus free throws, leaving Mississinawa Valley with eight seconds for a potential game-winning shot. The Blackhawks got a shot off, but it was no good as the Jets held on for the 56-55 victory.
“I thought we played well in stretches, which is kind of been our identity the past couple weeks,” Myers said. “Really proud at times, really disappointed at others. I think our guys really did a good job right here in the postgame just owning what happened, and they were spot on.”
Conley led Franklin Monroe with a game-high 26 points on Tuesday. Also for the Jets, Kyle Ressler scored 9 points, Zach Cable scored 7, Parker Hesler scored 6, Filbrun scored 5, Cole McGlinch scored 2, and Jordan Rhoades scored 1.
Bowman led Mississinawa Valley with 19 points. Also for the Blackhawks, Matt Slob scored 11 points, D.J. Howell scored 6, Blake Scholl scored 5, Trent Collins scored 4, Alex Scholl scored 4, Will Hall scored 4, and Cody Dirksen scored 2.
Franklin Monroe improved to 9-4 overall and 5-1 in the CCC with the win while Mississinawa Valley fell to 6-4 overall and 3-2 in the league.
MV will return to action on Friday with a home game against conference foe Bradford while FM will play Minster on Monday morning in the Flyin’ to the Hoop in Kettering.
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.