After the merger of Franklin and Monroe High Schools in the early 1950’s the school fielded its firstteam in 1953 and justfinished its 67th season of boys’ basketballwhile the girls started playing in 1975 and have had 45 years of play.
That is atotal of 102 basketball seasons between the two teams, involving many memorable teams, players, coaches and games.
The girls’ team has two district championships to their credit in 2004-05 and 2007-08 both coached by Ned Gray who in twelve seasons as coach compiled a 179-99 record and a .644 won lost percentage.
The all-time leading girl’s scorer is Katrina Spitler who scored 1654 points from 1999-03 and who held therecordfor most points in a season with 512 in 2001-02 until Corina Conley surpassed it this past season with 517.
Katrina is in the Ohio all time girls’ record book five times. She is #14 in three point field goal point percentage in a career with 40.1%, #7 for a season with 49.5% in 2002-03, #13 in free throws for a career with 465, #18 in free throws in a season with 168 in 2001-02 and #21 in free throws in a season with 163 in 2000-01.
The present girls’ coach Abbey Davenport Moore is in the all-time Ohio record book tied for #5 in three point field goals made in a game with 10 in 2005.
Besides Katrina Spitler,Corina Conley (1598), Abbey Davenport Moore (1232), Mara Howell (1230), Kim Clawson (1111), Erin Gray (1079), Elaina Kakatolis (1060) and Sierra Bruner (1011) have all scored over 1000 points in a career for the Lady Jets.
For the boys the leading all-timescorer is Mike Cross with 2204 points which puts him in 24th place all time among all Ohio high schoolboys’ players. His 27.7 ppg average and 804 points in the 1973-74 season are also tops for an FM player.
It is no surprise that he played on the only FM team to play for a state championship which the 1973-74 team coached by Phil Dubbs did, losing to LorrainClearview 74-69 in the championship game.
For his efforts Cross was named All State first team in both his junior and senior years.
The Jets also had two undefeated regular season teams in 1966-67 and 1987-88. The 22-0, 1967 team was upended by Arcanum in district play and the Trojans were led in scoring by above mentioned Ned Gray who scored 24 points.
That team featured two of the schools best all time players in Irv Besecker and Dan Franz. Besecker was the point guard and was selected third team All Ohio while Franz set the rebounds in a game record for all Ohio high school players ever with 43.
And while that team did not get a state title Irv Besecker did as a coach for Marion Local in 1975 over the Charlie Huggins coached Gandenhutten Indian Valley South in a 59-56 overtime win.
The 1987-88 team was coached by Richard Cline and featured Todd Robbins who held the FM record for points in a game with 44 until Ethan Conley scored 54 against Houston last year.
For the boys’ teamsJack Oliver had the longest tenure as coach. In his 11 seasons his teams compiled a 179-59 record and had the highest won-lost percentage of any FM coach with .752.
Former Jet coach and player Marcus Bixler is in the state record books tied for second all-time in assists in a game with 21 and is #6 for a season with 264 in the 1998-99 school year.
Travis Swank who holds down 5th place in all-time scoring for FM with 1152 points and helped the 2003 squad get to reginalplay is presently the coach of the Versailles Tigers.
With present FM coach Troy Myers, Swank and current girls’ coach Abbey Moore at least three FM alumni are presently coaching in Darke County.
Besides Mike Cross and Travis Swank, the other 1000 point career scorers are Ethan Conley (1977), Jon Sass (1550), Brian Myers (1195), Irv Besecker (1146), Rod Nealeigh (1105), Travis Feitshans (1062) and Kip Gray (1031).
In addition to his single game rebound record, Dan Franz holds the #9 spot for rebounds in a season all time with 488.
This past year was a good year for FM basketball as the girls’ team went 23-3 compiling the most wins and least number of defeats in team history before bowing out of the tournament after a difficult loss to Fort Loramie
Corina Conley, Belle Cable, Chloe Peters and Audrey Cable represented the Lady Jetson the All Cross Country Conference team with Corina getting the Player of the Year Award. Aiden Luchini and Cavin Baker represented the boys’ team.
And with many players returning next year the girls’ and boys’ teams should provide a promising future for FM basketball.
Ron Griffitts a contributing columnist for the Daily Advocate