PITSBURG – Ethan Conley and the rest of his Franklin-Monroe cohorts saved one of their best games for last in upending National Trail, 65-60 on Friday night.
Conley hung a game-high 33 points on the Blazers and was joined in double figures by Jordan Rhoades and Connor Crist with 10 apiece. National Trail was led by sophomore Cameron Harrison, who hoisted in 21. The win propels the Jets to 12-9 overall as they finished 7-5 in the Cross County Conference. National Trail saw its record drop to a still impressive 18-4 overall and 9-3 in the CCC.
The Jets were all in as soon as the ball tipped off to start the first quarter as they had five players combine to score their total of 12. They were led by senior Gage Vance and freshman Ky Cool with a triple apiece. FM jetted out to a 7-2 lead at the four minute mark only to see Trail battle back to tie it up at 9 apiece before popping in a trey with 30 seconds left in first canto.
The second quarter was more of the same with Franklin-Monroe posting an early lead and National Trail battling back to tie it up and go ahead briefly. The Jets got a quick deuce to go up 15-9 before Trail rallied to hit for 12 of the next 18 points for a two point lead at 21-19. However, the Jets showed their moxie and scored 6 out of the next 8 points to muster a two point advantage at 25-23 in this thrill-a-minute quarter. Senior Luke Booher got the last bucket of the quarter to get the momentum heading back in the the Jets direction with a driving layup. Conley scored from the inside and outside with 9 points in the quarter. Trail had 14 for the frame led by 6-foot-6 big man Hunter Michael with 8 of his nine points in this 8 minutes of action.
Third quarter theatrics showed the Jets hitting on all cylinders for the first five-plus minutes as they hit for 13 to go up 38-30 at the 2:47 mark. However, Trail found its mark quickly from then on and hit for 10 of the next 12 points to knot it all up at 40 apiece heading into the final quarter. Conley scored 7 of the Jets’ 15 to help lead the attack against the Preble County foes with a three, two and two free throws. Crist and Rhoades chipped in with 4 apiece from underneath. Harrison hit for 11 of his 21 in this quarter for Trail.
The Jets and Blazers combined for a 45 points in a wild fourth quarter with the Jets burning the nets for 25 points, which matched their whole total in the first 16 minutes. The Blazers were not too far off that mark as they popped in 20 to almost match their 23 points in the first half. Trail was hampered at the line as they could only can 2-of-6 free throws for 33 percent. Trail hit for four three’s in the quarter and it still was not enough to fend off the Jets. Zach Woodall scored 4 points to match Harrison’s four markers. Conley was a one man wrecking crew in the fourth period though with 15 points. Crist added four and Cool swished 3-of-4 freebies when the game hung in the balance. Senior Luke Booher hit a big free throw to keep the Blazers at bay as well and the Jets made 10-of-16 free throws in the fourth quarter.
”This was a huge win for us tonight to say the least,” FM coach Troy Myers said. “We had three guys in double figures and this was a team win all the way as everyone contributed. I cannot say enough about Luke (Booher) tonight as he was all over the place on both ends of the court. (Ky) Cool was calm and collected for a freshman tonight as he hit 3-of-4 from the line when we needed it most.
“The last three weeks we have been coming together as we barely lost to (Twin Valley) South and Arcanum,” Myers continued. “We finish up with Dixie (tomorrow) for our Senior night and we hope to carry this momentum into the tournament. We made just enough free throws tonight, but we must do better than 12 of 19. National Trail is a dangerous team and holding Harrison to 21 is saying something. Lastly, Conley was Conley as he was a man amongst boys. He is unstoppable when he gets his shots going which he did tonight.”
Scoring for National Trail – Evynn Short 9, Travis Hunt 3, Harrison 21, Bisher 3, Adam Eyler 5, Woodall 8, Michael 9, and Tyler Weathington 2 for 60 points. Seven threes, 18 regulars, and 3 of 8 freebies for 38 percent.
Scoring for Franklin-Monroe – Vance 3, Rhoades 10, Crist 10, Booher 3, Conley 33, Cool 6 for 65 points. Seven threes, 16 regulars and 12 of 19 free throws for 63 percent.