BRADFORD – The Franklin-Monroe girls basketball team has been a tear of late.
Beginning with a Dec. 22 victory over Houston, the Lady Jets have won 8 of their last 9 games to get to 13 wins for the season. Win No. 13 came on Thursday night against an up-and-coming young Bradford squad that has lost two of its best players to injury.
Franklin-Monroe came out aggressive to start the game with eight consecutive points on two 3s for junior Corina Conley and a bucket by sophomore Stella Shellabarger as the Jets closed out the opening frame with a 13-5 lead. The other three quarters were much the same as the Lady Jets rolled to a 60-26 road win.
“We had to get back on that winning track,” FM coach Abbey Moore said referring the her squads loss at Versailles on Tuesday. “I think coming out strong and being aggressive was the key for us and that happened on the defensive end. They have some really good young girls on their team who can handle the ball and can get to the hole and attack. Part of our defensive plan was to stop that. At times we weren’t as successful, but for the most part I thought we did a really good job defensively and stuck to that game plan.”
It was more of the same in the second quarter for the Jets as Conley scored 13 of her career-high 27 points. It was the second time this season the junior has scored 27 in a game. She connected on four straight free throws to begin the quarter, first at the 7:23 mark and then again at the 6:40 mark. At 6:02 she stretched the Jets lead to 19-7 on a bucket and then made it 23-9 at the 3:09 mark on a half-court pass from Kennedy Morris for the layup. With 2:03 left before the break, Conley helped herself by stepping in front of a pass for a steal and taking it all the way to the hole herself for a 27-9 lead. Conley ended her second quarter onslaught with an old-fashioned 3-point play by sinking the bucket and the added free throw with 58 seconds left before halftime.
“Corina worked really hard in the offseason on her outside shot and that has added a whole new dimension to her game,” Moore said of Conley, who drained four triples in the contest. “She was able to knock them down tonight and it was a great addition to our offense as she tied her career high of 27 points from earlier this season. When she comes out and plays aggressive it just sets the tone for our team.
“We were just putting ball pressure on to keep them from getting any confidence,” she continued. “Just from experience too we talk about the younger you are and being in those pressure situations how it can be difficult at times so that was part of our plan putting pressure on their guards and trying to make it as difficult for them as we could.”
Bradford has hung its hat on strong defensive performances most of this season, but the Railroaders just couldn’t corral Franklin-Monroe this time.
“We had trouble getting the ball from A to B tonight and when you can’t effectively move the ball it makes it tough to run an offense and create shots,” Bradford coach Chris Besecker said as his team falls to 12-5 overall and 6-4 in the Cross County Conference. “(Franklin-Monroe) played really great defense against us tonight and I admire that. It is fun to watch teams play defense that way.”
Freshman Austy Miller led the Railroaders with 17 points. She was the only Bradford player to reach double digits and the only one with more than 4 points.
“When Austy (Miller) has to shoulder the offense like that for us it just wears her out,” Besecker said. “We lost our top scorer and rebounder (sophomore Skipp Miller) obviously and now Lex (Alexis Barhorst) is out too. She was our best perimeter shooter along with Austy and was just starting to get going when she went down. That is a little frustrating, but we have to remember we are putting almost all freshmen and sophomores on the floor so we have to be patient.
“We are doing all right with the cards we have been dealt, but I don’t want us to be satisfied and get complacent,” he continued. “We want to keep looking to get better as there is a good future here with the basketball program. There are a lot of years left for these kids and hopefully down the road we have more success and will be able to compete with the likes of Franklin-Monroe and Tri-Village.”
Franklin-Monroe (13-4, 8-2 CCC) had seven players reach the scoring column. Besides Conley’s 27 points, Chloe Peters also scored in double figures with 10. Shellabarger had 7 and Morris and Chloe McGlinch contributed 6 points apiece.
“All around I thought everybody came out and played really well,” Moore said. “Even the girls that didn’t put any points on the board they were making the stops on defense and making good passes. Defensively I remember several trips down the floor where it was somebody different making a play. Kennedy had the task to guard Miller and that wore her out a little bit, but she did a great job. It seemed like every time I looked up she was right in her face. Belle Cable was able to get some steals and did a great job running the floor and passing the ball in transition as well. It was a whole team effort tonight to get it done.”
FM returns to action on Saturday with a 12:30 p.m. start at troy Christian, while Bradford gets back at it on Tuesday with a 6 p.m. game at Arcanum in a makeup contest from earlier this season.
Score by quarters
Franklin-Monroe – Skylar Bauman 1 0 2, Belle Cable 1 0 2, Corina Conley 9 5 27, Kennedy Morris 3 0 6, Chloe McGlinch 3 0 6, Stella Shellabarger 3 0 7, Chloe Peters 4 2 10. Totals: 24 7 60.
Bradford – Austy Miller 7 1 17, Emma Canan 0 1 1, Abby Fike 1 0 2, Rylee Canan 1 0 2, Bianca Keener 2 0 4. Totals: 11 2 26.
3-pointers – Franklin-Monroe 5 (Conley 4, Shellabarger 1), Bradford 2 (A. Miller 2).
Records: Franklin-Monroe (13-4, 8-2 CCC), Bradford (12-5, 6-4 CCC).
The Daily Advocate sports editor Skip Weaver can be reached at (937) 569-4316 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter at @skipweaver65.