BY RICK TEVERBAUGH
ANDERSON –– The Frankton boys just missed completing a sweep at Liberty Christian in the opening round of the Madison County Basketball Tournament here Monday.
The Lions’ Cedric Anderson’s offensive rebound basket off his own miss lifted the home team to a 53-52 lead and a win over the Eagles. Frankton will play Wednesday in the second game at Anderson Prep against Pendleton Heights.
The Eagles girls had no such trouble as Lauryn Bates had 19 points and nine rebounds as they cruised to a 76-21 triumph. They will play Thursday at Pendleton Heights in the second game against the host Arabians.
The Frankton boys started strong and held a 20-12 lead after one quarter. Jacob Davenport had 10 points in the period on his way to a game-high 25 points, nearly half of his team’s total.
“Jacob had a great game,” said Frankton coach Brent Brobston. “He’s been really good the past three or four games.”
Davenport hit all five of his shots in that quarter as he went between and under Liberty’s very tall inside players.
The second quarter was a different story for both teams. Frankton scored on a three-point play by Davenport on its opening possession and never scored again before halftime. But the Lions also only scored three points, a field goal and a free throw by Kobe Watson.
The Eagles scored seven of the first 10 points in the third quarter and led 30-18. But the Lions scored the next 12 in a row to tie the game at 30-30 with 3:01 to play. Liberty Christian would miss just three shots in that quarter.
“I was pleased at the way we rebounded from adversity,” said Brobston. “We answered with those five points right away.”
Frankton rebounded with five straight points for a 35-30 lead and was in a position to go into the final quarter with at least a three-point lead. But Liberty’s Tyler Houck had other ideas. His long 3-pointer at the horn tied it at 37-37. “I don’t know why we left him and didn’t at least get a hand up,” said Brobston.
The Eagles led by five at 48-43, but the Lions answered with six straight points and with 1:09 remaining had a 49-48 advantage. Frankton fell behind 51-48, but cut it to 51-50 on two free throws by Davenport.
The Eagles got a steal and a layup by Davenport for a 52-51 lead. “There were a couple of points, going back to the locker room after the game where I thought maybe we could have used a time out,” said Brobston. “But you hope there everyone hustles back down court and can get a stop.”
Liberty sprinted back on offense, nearly turned it over, but got a close shot from Anderson, who missed, but followed it up with a basket with 5.2 seconds left for the final win margin. After time out, Frankton quickly got the ball to half court, but a pass from there was long and the game ended on a turnover.
“That’s the most talented team we’ve played this year,” said Brobston. “We knew that going in. We had scouted them in person twice. We had the most difficult draw we’ve had in this tournament in my years at Frankton,” said Brobston.
The Lady Eagles broke out to a 24-3 lead after one quarter and pushed it to 49-11 at halftime. By intermission eight Eagles had scored and by game’s end 10 were in the scoring column as the team liberally substituted.
“In the past we’ve had some teams that didn’t play up to their capabilities in this situation,” said Frankton coach Stephan Hamaker. “But I think this team did that. Give Liberty credit. They kept battling for all four quarters.”
The Lions were actually only outscored 12-10 in the third quarter, but the Eagles won the final frame 15-0.
About Bates’ big night, Hamaker said, “Maybe this will give her the confidence she needs,” said Hamaker. “I was also pleased that we got 10 points from (Bella) Dean off the bench. She played very well.”
Frankton hit 34-of-67 from the field and sophomore Amaya Collins had a lot to do with that, hitting 7-of-11 field goals on her way to 16 points.
Emma Sperry and Cagney Utterback scored eight apiece. The Eagles dominated on the boards 34-19.
Liberty had only three players score, topped by junior Shameel Clervrain with 11.
Next up for the Eagles (now 12-3) is PH, a team they lost to 60-34 early in the season.
“It seems like we always play Pendleton Heights twice every season,” said Hamaker. “Most of the time we’ve beaten them in the season but lost to them in the tournament. We’re going to see if we can turn that around. They are big and long and it will be a tough game for sure.”