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Second-half blowout gives No. 2 Greensburg easy win

By Tyler Whittamore, Sports Editor

GREENSBURG – For 16 minutes on Friday, January 5, the Franklin County varsity girls' basketball team held the 3A No. 2 Greensburg Lady Pirates in check. While FC's offensive woes continued, the team's defense remained outstanding in the first half. The second half was a different matter, however, as the Lady Pirates stormed their way to a 66-35 win.

Greensburg averages nearly 68 points per game. Franklin County, on the other hand, averages barely over 40, so keeping the Lady Pirates off the scoreboard as much as possible was a major point of emphasis for FC. Through the first two quarters, the Lady Wildcats did exactly that, trailing by five points at the break.

The Lady Pirates scored more points in the third quarter than they did in the first half. The home team repeated the effort in the fourth quarter, earning its 31-point win. For FC head coach Doug Robertson, the challenge for the Lady Wildcats is putting together four solid quarters.

“I thought we played really physical in the first half, but we got frustrated when shots didn't fall,” the coach said. “(Greensburg) was the aggressor in the second half, and we were just a little too soft.”

The key to keeping Greensburg in check is making sure to stop star shooting guard, Kyra Whitaker. On Friday night, the success of the Lady Pirates went hand-in-hand with the success of Whitaker. Foul trouble held the senior to just four points in the first half on 2-of-7 (29 percent) shooting.

In the second half, Whitaker made it a point to enforce her will at the offensive end. The talented and quick-footed guard scored 12 points in the final two quarters, helping to lead her team to victory with 16 for the game.

“It was helpful that she picked up three fouls in the first half,” Coach Robertson said. “(The Lady Pirates) are a completely different team without her, which you could see in the second half.”

Offense has come in spurts and sputters for FC of late. The team was troubled by the same issue against Greensburg. The Lady Wildcats took the first lead of the game on a basket by Kamryn McCool, but the visitors managed just four more points over the final 6:30 of the opening period.

To make matters worse, two of FC's starters left the game in the first due to foul trouble. Gabby Mitchum and Megan Getz both picked up a pair of fouls in the first few minutes, limiting their availability the rest of the contest.

“Luckily, we had some girls that did a great job when they were put in unfamiliar positions early,” Coach Robertson said. “They handled the pressure in the first half, we just had too many unforced mistakes.”

Despite a three from Greensburg's Aliyah Evans to start the second, the Lady Wildcats answered with six straight points, trimming the lead to one at 13-12. A layup from Whitaker in the final five seconds the last score of the first half. Franklin County had scored just 14 points, but the team had held Greensburg to just 19.

In the time it took FC to score its first point of the second half, the Lady Pirates had already run the lead up to double digits, 26-15. The Lady Wildcats would not fare much better in the final six minutes of the third. Whitaker ended the third like she ended the second period, nailing a layup that put the home team up 21, 43-22.

The fourth quarter produced little hope for FC, as Greensburg kept up the tempo and the pressure. A large portion of the final eight minutes belonged to the reserves from both teams. With 12 seconds left, Greensburg's Melina Wilkison hit a layup to push the lead over the 30-point mark. The result was the final score of 66-35.

Franklin County finished the game shooting just 11-for-51 (22 percent) from the field. Greensburg, on the other hand, rebounded with a stunning second half to shoot 27-for-52 (52 percent) for the game.

Whitaker was matched in scoring with 16 points from Rhegan Day, who also pulled down nine rebounds. Evans added 11 points.

The Lady Wildcats were led by Kamryn McCool with 13 points and a game-high nine rebounds. Kendall McCool added nine points. No other FC player made more than one field goal.

Franklin County (8-10, 0-3) will host Connersville (7-10, 0-4) on Friday, January 12, in a conference battle to get out of the EIAC cellar. Start time is slated for 6 p.m. with the junior varsity contest.

The Lady Wildcats will compete in the State Fairgrounds Showcase at Indianapolis on Saturday, January 13. Franklin County will open the event with a game against the Hagerstown Lady Tigers (7-9) at 11 a.m. The Franklin County boys' varsity team will follow, also facing Hagerstown.