PITSBURG – Franklin-Monroe overcame a 10-point first half deficit and shot 80 percent from the free throw line 31-for-39 to pull away from visiting Tri-Village for a 70-54 Cross County Conference win on Friday night.
The first half turned into a one-on-one match-up between Franklin-Monroe’s Ethan Conley and Tri-Village’s Gage Hileman. Hileman scored 18 points and Conley 17 as the Patriots held a 33-27 lead at the break.
The Patriots got off to a fast start in the game behind freshman Layne Sarver, who hit two 3-pointers and Hileman had 6 points as well to go up 16-9 on the Jets.
Derek Eyer opened the second period with a triple to give the Patriots a 10-point lead, their largest on the night.
Conley scored the next 9 points including a two-handed dunk to pull the Jets to within a point 19-18 at 5:44.
Hileman’s 12 points in the second quarter was good enough to help the Patriots regain control.
In the third quarter, the momentum started to shift as Tri-Village gave up 7 fouls within the first three-plus minutes putting Franklin-Monroe in the bonus with one-and-a-half quarters to play.
“We knew coming in there were match-up issues and we wanted to attack the basket early and for some reason in the first half we settled on the 3-pointers and found ourselves down. We implored them to attack the rim to draw fouls and it paid off in the third quarter,” Franklin-Monroe coach Troy Myers said.
The adjustments made by Myers and Franklin-Monroe helped slow down Tri-Village on offense, primarily on Hileman.
“We were concerned with No. 11 (Eyer) before the game with how he wanted to get his feet into the paint to create plays, so we made an adjustment at halftime with personnel and asked Jordan Rhoades to be our stopper on No. 3 (Hileman). I feel like it discombobulated them on offense out front a little bit and we took them out of their rhythm,” Myers said.
“We made subs in the second half and had two freshmen on the floor most of the night. The freshmen who were in the game did a really good job defensively … we’re just trying to figure this out on the fly with so many young kids, they did a tremendous job tonight,” Myers stated.
With TV holding a 41-39 lead it was a freshman who gave the Jets the lead when Trey Kreitzer hit a big three to put FM up 42-41 at 2:52.
“I told the guys in the team huddle this morning there are going to be multiple younger kids playing tonight. I don’t know who it’s going to be, please know your stuff when you come into the game. Defensively, Trey did and that gave him confidence to shoot the basketball, that was a huge shot, it gave us a lot of momentum,” Myers praised.
Conley took over the rest of the quarter; including back-to-back triples as the Jets held a 50-43 lead heading into the final stanza.
Tri-Village went down by 20 points (63-43) in the fourth quarter. They would battle back to 10 points, but just ran out of steam late as the Jets made them pay at the charity stripe.
“We couldn’t afford to quit as a team, when they went up by 20 we just kept playing hard. For a lot of our guys it’s the last time they will probably play FM, at least in the regular season, so we’re not just going to sit there and fold, it’s who we are. We cut the lead and had a chance to get it under 10, but we just had too many fouls tonight,” Tri-Village coach Mackenzie Perry said.
“Foul trouble was the name of the game tonight and when you only play eight guys, that’s a problem. You have to give FM credit every time we fouled, they made their free throws,” Perry added.
“Gage had a great game, he is a heck of good player and was hot in the first half. I really wanted him to hit more shots, but give FM credit for slowing him down. I think he just ran out of steam in the second half,” Perry concluded.
Conley ended the night with 43 points leading all scorers. Connor Crist added 12 points for FM.
“Connor Crist picked up three fouls earlier and when you’re down a couple guys he has to be on the floor, he adjusted well and made some big plays for us tonight. He has to make plays for us to give us an inside presence, if not we really, really struggle,” Myers said.
Hileman tallied 20 points, Derek Eyer and Layne Sarver both added 13 points each for TV.
Tri-Village fell to 4-5 overall and 2-2 in the Cross Country Conference.
Franklin-Monroe improved to 6-4 overall and 3-2 in the Cross County Conference.
The Cross County Conference has no undefeated teams with Bethel, Ansonia, Twin Valley South and Miami East leading the way with just one loss, while Franklin-Monroe, National Trail, Tri-Village and Mississinawa Valley all have two losses.
“The Cross County Conference race is wide open and our margin for error is so slim in these games. We can’t get caught up in the race, we literally have to figure out how we’re going to win tomorrow night with the line-up we have and take it game by game, but I’m super proud of our guys tonight and the way they performed,” Myers concluded.
Score by quarters:
Tri-Village – Hileman 20, Eyer 13, Sarver 13, Lee 6, Lay 2. Totals 5-15-9/12 – 54.
Franklin-Monroe – Conley 43, C. Crist 12, Cool 2, Rhoades 5, Baker 1, Kreitzer 4, Sargent 3. Totals 3-15-31/39 – 70.
3-Point Scoring – Tri-Village 5 (Sarver 3, Eyer 1, Hileman 1), Franklin-Monroe 3 (Conley 2, Kreitzer 1).