Franklin Monroe boys basketball season ends in District Semifinal

They're just really hard to beat when they get a lead ... Coach Troy Myers

Franklin Monroe Boys Basketball team had complete turn around this year going from 6-17 last season to 18-6 this year.  They fell in the District Semi-Finals to Jackson Center 38-31. (Dale Barger photo)

PIQUA – The Franklin Monroe Boys Basketball team came up short in their quest to advance to the District Championship game falling to Jackson Center 38-31.

The Jets had got on top early behind a triple from senior Gage Wackler along with 2 free throws for a 5-3 lead.

Senior Gage Wackler played with toughness and heart this year.  He scored the first 5 points for the Jets in their tournament game with Jackson Center. (Dale Barger photo)

The Tigers and Jets would go back and forth and were tied at 11, as Lucas Brenner added 4 points and Eric Brenner 2 in the 1st period.

Eric Brenner started the 2nd quarter with a triple to put the Jets up 14-11 … but for the remainder of the quarter they would get shut out.

Eric Brenner would net the only score in the 2nd quarter for Franklin Monroe on a triple. (Dale Barger photo)

Jackson Center known for playing tough, physical man-to-man defense stifled open looks and challenged any shots the Jets could muster.  The Jets had opportunities in the 2nd quarter but missed shots at the rim due to the physical style of play.

The Tigers scored 10 in the period to take a 21-14 lead at the break.

In a defensive game like this and with each possession important a 7-point deficit can be tough to make up … but Franklin Monroe clamped down on defense and clawed back tying the game at 23 by the 2:25 mark of the 3rd quarter.

Lucas Brenner would find the road to the rim tough with the Tigers challenging the Jets at every turn.  He had 9 points in the contest. (Dale Barger photo)

But Jackson Center would hit a big triple and got 2 tough buckets from their big man to push the lead back out to 6, to lead 29-23 heading into the final frame.

Once again Franklin Monroe battled back showing no quit getting a couple of buckets from Lucas Brenner and a bucket from EB Fall along with 2 free throws getting within 2, 33-31 at the 1:42 mark bringing the large Jet crowd to their feet.

EB Fall takes the harm going to the rim and makes two free throws in 4th quarter.  Fall scored 9 points for the Jets. (Dale Barger photo)

In a game like this going down the stretch sometimes the breaks don’t go your way … and that was the case for Franklin Monroe.  A missed lay-up, a ball bouncing the wrong way was just enough for Jackson Center to take advantage with Reed Platfoot scoring 7 of his game-high 18 points in the quarter.

“When they get a six-point lead, you may not touch it again. They’re just really hard to beat when they get a lead, and with four minutes to play, there’s not a lot you can do about it unless you start fouling and so that was the predicament we were in,” Troy Myers said.

Ty Riffle got chopped to the ground on this lay-up attempt.  He would make a free throw off the foul. (Dale Barger photo)

The Tigers worked the clock over the last few minutes and finished out the game with a 38-31 win to advance to the District Championship and end a fantastic season by Franklin Monroe.

The loss doesn’t take away the type of year FM had after having won 6 games last year, they finished this season with 18 wins, 6 losses and a 3rd place finish at 9-2 in the WOAC.

A loss is never easy, but Coach Myers was proud of his team and how they competed.

“I think you got to give Jackson a lot of credit. On the way they defended, how physical they were. They made our shots more difficult. We did get looks and got a lot of looks in the first half really at the rim. Just fought the physicality and weren’t good enough to finish at the rim in the first half. But we competed hard and it’s a complete credit to our kids.  I wouldn’t want to lose in a tournament with any other kids. I really wouldn’t. These kids have been fantastic and I’m super proud of them,” Myers exclaimed.

FM will lose two seniors Dalton Winterrowd and Gage Wackler who drew the praise of coach Troy Myers.

“Last year our locker room was certainly not as unified as it was this year.  And those two specifically had a lot to do with that change.  Completely accepting everybody in our locker room, making it known every day we’re all going to work, it’s not just going to be here and there, and not just going to be a few kids, but all of us on a daily basis, just holding that standard and that expectation in what we expect of them that we want to create change in this program, and they did it.  Not just from a record standpoint, but with the characteristics of the people in our program, and how they behave. They just bought into the mission right from the jump. You cannot be a champion unless you behave like one before you become one and they really bought into that from the get-go. I’m super proud of them for the change that they made and the choice they made to be different. Really good kids, both really outstanding people,” Myers praised.

The Jets however will have lot to look forward to next season and will return 4 of their 5 starters along with 85% of their offense.

The FM Cheerleaders pose during a timeout in a tournament game with Jackson Center. (Dale Barger photo)