PITSBURG – The Franklin Monroe Jets opened Homecoming festivities on a happy note by defeating a determined Ansonia Tiger squad 56-52 in a Cross County Conference matchup Friday night.
“We did enough to win,” Jets’ coach Troy Myers said. “I’m not very happy about it at all. I thought our defense let us down.”
“Every game we’re going to learn something new about ourselves…” Tigers coach Chad Cramer said. “They’ve been real eager to learn so far. I hate to get out of here without a win because it’s one we could have won.”
Ansonia opened the scoring with what would be the centerpiece of its offense of the evening, a 3-point field goal by senior Dane Wentworth, who would lead the Tigers on the evening with 15 points. Freshman Devyn Sink and junior Lane Clark also bombed in triples to continue the Ansonia momentum, but a five-point spurt by FM senior Zach Hyre, who would lead all scorers with 24, brought the Jets to within one at 11-10 with 1:32 remaining.
The Jets added two long range field goals of their own by Bradey Hesler and Hyre to push FM to an 18-13 lead after one period. The Tigers zone defense and the FM man to man both were looking for ways to pick up the outside shooters more quickly to try and stop the 3-point barrage.
The second quarter was dominated by Ansonia. The Tigers outscored FM 17-7. Ansonia thrived from behind the arc by connecting on five threes, four by Wentworth and another by sophomore guard Aydan Sanders. The Tiger defense caused the Jet offense to function less than efficiently with turnovers forced sporadically.
“Not only are we inexperienced, but a lot of guys playing a lot of minutes right now who haven’t played at this level,” Coach Myers said. “You don’t take care of the basketball, it doesn’t matter who you play. You have to take care of the basketball. It’s a possession game.”
Ansonia held the halftime lead, 30-25.
The third quarter saw Franklin Monroe increase its defensive pressure. It did not allow Ansonia a 3-point goal in the period. Hyre and Ethan Conley had six points each to give the Jets the 39-38 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
An interesting situation was developing. When taking outside shots a team generally doesn’t draw as many fouls on its opponent. After three quarters FM was 8 of 8 from the free throw line while Ansonia was yet to have an attempt.
The lead would change hands six times in the final quarter. At an Ansonia timeout with 4:08 remaining the score was tied at 43.
Conley made one of two free throws, putting the Jets ahead 44-43. Hunter Muir countered with a driving basket to give Ansonia the lead 45-44. A Hyre field goal gave the lead back to FM at 46-45 with 2:05 remaining. One more time the Tigers went with the 3-point shot, as Trevor Alexander sank his only field goal of the game from the left wing with 1:20 to go giving Ansonia a 48-46 advantage.
The very next possession saw the Jets run their offense and when an open look presented itself to Kyle Ressler, he stuck in a three ball from the left corner for a 49-48 Jet lead. Ansonia could not convert on its next possession and was forced to foul.
With 31.6 seconds left Hesler made two free throws to increase the lead to 51-48 for FM. Once again the Jet defense held the Tigers at bay and forced another foul. The Jets would convert 5 of 6 free throws in the final 18.5 seconds to seal the victory. Talking about the end of game free throws, Coach Myers said, “That was the difference it really was. Send a sophomore to the line, send a freshman to the line, send a junior to the line … they stepped up and did their jobs. It’s been a key for us. We’ve been able to knock free throws down. It’s been a saving grace.”
Coach Cramer on his team’s progress said, “Nice first step. We were in a big game, a game that was tight at the end. And did we make some mistakes down the stretch, absolutely, but the only way you learn and grow from that is by playing in those close games and making those mistakes. Hopefully, next time we’re out we’re in a tight ballgame and we can figure out a way to get a win.”
Ansonia had a very balanced scoring attack led by Wentworth’s 15. Sink had 10 and Clark had nine with Muir adding eight combined with Sanders’ five, Alexander’s three and Swabb’s two. The Tigers attempted zero free throws.
Franklin Monroe was led by Hyre with 24, Conley 14, Ressler seven, Hesler seven, McGlinch four and were 16-19 from the line.
Ansonia falls to 0-4, 0-2 in the Cross County Conference. FM moves to 2-2 overall and 1-1 in CCC play.
Franklin Monroe won the junior varsity contest 60-28.
Sink 10, Swabb 2, Sanders 5, Muir 8, Alexander 3, Wentworth 15, Clark 9.
Franklin Monroe- 56
Ressler 7, Ca McGlinch 4, Hyre 24, B Hesler 7, E Conley 14.
3-pointers: ANS 10(Wentworth 5, Sink 2, Sanders, Alexander, Clark); FM 3 (Ressler, Hyre, B Hesler).