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Franklin Co. goes 1-1 on first day of tourney

By Tyler Whittamore, Sports Editor

The Franklin County varsity girls' basketball team split a pair of games during the first day of the 2018 Whitewater Valley Classic tournament at FCHS on Wednesday, December 27. After a miscue in the morning, the Lady Wildcats went on to win their second game of the day. Although the team completed the day with an even record, the tiebreaker for the tournament was lowest points allowed, qualifying FC for the championship game the following day.

There were nine games played during the two-day tourney, and the Lady Wildcats had the unfortunate luck of competing in the first game at 9 a.m. against the Guerin Catholic Lady Golden Eagles. It was clear from the start that an early morning tip had everyone discombobulated, as both teams and even the officials struggled to find a rhythm.

The Lady Golden Eagles entered the contest with just one win on the year, but after getting off to a great start, the team was able to hang on late for a 45-35 victory. Guerin Catholic took advantage of FC's shooting woes, holding the Lady Wildcats to a 19 percent average (11-for-57) from the field.

Franklin County was hoping its star forward, Kamryn McCool, could help lead the home team through the tournament. Early foul trouble limited McCool's impact in the first game when she picked up two fouls in the first two minutes of the game.

McCool spent the rest of the opening quarter on the bench. She subbed back in to start the second, but picked up her third foul less than a minute into the period. The senior had limited minutes in the second half, but was still hit with her fourth and eventual fifth, personal foul. McCool scored just two points, but she did register nine rebounds in the game.

The game got started on the right foot for FC, as Megan Getz nailed a three to open the scoring. Guerin outscored FC by a 9-5 margin over the final six minutes, however. The second quarter began with the visitors leading, 9-8.

Franklin County was outscored in the second period as well. If not for impressive offensive rebound numbers for FC, the Lady Wildcats may have trailed by a much larger number. The score at halftime was 22-16, in favor of the Lady Golden Eagles. In the first 16 minutes of the game, the Lady Wildcats had an 11-2 advantage in offensive rebounds.

By the end of the game, FC had pulled down 24 offensive rebounds, to just five for Guerin Catholic, but the extra attempts only resulted in nine second-chance points for the Lady Wildcats.

The Lady Golden Eagles extended their lead in the third quarter, outscoring the home team by a 15-9 margin. When the final period got underway, the visitors were staked to a 37-25 lead. The fourth quarter was the best of the night for the Lady Wildcats, who scored 10 points, but Guerin Catholic scored eight and took a 45-35 victory in the next round.

Sydney Geis was the overall leading scorer for the game, dropping 22 points for Guerin Catholic. She was 11-for-13 (87 percent) from the free throw line and 5-for-7 (71 percent) from the field. Franklin County was led by Getz with 12 points. Kendall McCool added 10 points.

After the game, the Lady Wildcats got a few hours off before having to take the floor again against the Tipton Lady Blue Devils. Although things got off to a slow start, Franklin County put together a great game. After a solid first half, the Lady Wildcats were able to close out the contest strong, winning by a 47-38 score.

Good defense and more aggressiveness at the offensive end resulted in FC taking a 6-0 lead out of the gate. Tipton scored the next four points, but the Lady 'Cats held a two-point advantage as the second quarter began.

The Lay Blue Devils managed to tie the game at 10-10 with a little more than five minutes left in the first half. A 7-2 run for FC, which ended on a jump shot by Kamryn McCool with four seconds left, allowed the home team to take a 17-12 lead into the break.

Franklin County was just 3-for-13 (13 percent) from the field in the third quarter. A 4-0 run by Tipton in the final two minutes saw the lead trimmed to just two points, 24-22, as the final quarter began.

The Lady Blue Devils tied the game with a couple of free throws to start the fourth. After her sister fouled out for the second straight game, Kendall McCool scored the next 10 points for FC. Whether it was layups, three-point shots or free throws, the senior helped guide the home team to a 10-point lead, 38-28.

Franklin County scored 23 points in total in the fourth quarter. Tipton scored 16 in the period, but the Lady Wildcats were able to hit free throws down the stretch to secure the nine-point win. The win also snapped a five-game losing streak for FC.

“We really wanted to clog the paint and keep (Tipton) from scoring inside,” FC head coach Doug Robertson said. “I feel like we did a pretty good job of that, especially against a physical team. Whenever you have a multi-game losing streak, it's always nice to get one back, regardless of whether it comes in a tournament.”

Despite fouling out, Kamryn McCool scored 11 points and pulled down six rebounds. Getz added 10 points to the cause. Kendall McCool led FC in points (17) and rebounds (8).

“The game could have gone either way without Kendall in the fourth quarter,” Coach Robertson said. “It was nice to see her step up and take care of it for us.”

Tipton's Cassidy Crawford led all players with 24 points and nine rebounds. She finished the game going 8-for-16 (50 percent) from the field.

The first day of the Whitewater Valley Classic came to a close for the Lady Wildcats after the win. Because of their defense, the team won the tiebreak to qualify for the championship game the following day.