Wildcats looking for offense as 2019 begins
By John Estridge, Sports Editor
Early in the first quarter of the season’s fourth game against South Dearborn, Franklin County’s leading scorer junior Clayton Spurlock hurt his knee and was out for the rest of the season.
Spurlock had some 20-point-plus games before injuring his knee and was a threat to hit the outside shot from just about anywhere on the court.
Since his loss, the Wildcats have been struggling to find other players who can score prolifically.
Saturday night, Jan. 5, senior swingman Jordan Floyd stepped to the forefront scoring more than half of the team’s 28 points with a 15-point outburst.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, it was not enough as the visiting Union County Patriots defeated the Wildcats 54-28.
UC played a plethora of defenses from a 2-3 zone, to man, to a half-court and full-court trap. But the Patriots bread-and-butter defense was the 2-3 zone. Without an outside scoring threat, the Wildcats had a hard time scoring.
“In both of the games (also against Oldenburg), they played zone (and) we do not have good shooters yet,” FC coach Eric Ebrens said. “It makes it very difficult to score.”
UC senior Mook Shepler led the Patriots in scoring during the initial quarter with four points, which was 40 percent of the Patriots’ first-quarter scoring.
Overall, Shepler ended up second on the Patriots in scoring with 16 points. Fellow senior, Cameron Sanford led all scorers with 18 points.
FC junior Brady Bogan was the only Wildcat to score in the first quarter.
By halftime, the Wildcats kept it manageable trailing the visitors by dozen points at half, 22-10.
However, the Patriots outscored the Wildcats 18-8 in the pivotal third quarter to put the game out of reach.
One area where the Patriots dominated the Wildcats was on the boards.
UC had 32 rebounds to the Wildcats 22. But the key was on the offensive boards. At times, it looked like volleyball on the Patriot end. UC had 14 offensive boards.
“The offensive rebounds in the second half by Union County were partly due to giving up too much penetration, which led to poor rotations that opened up the offensive rebounds,” Ebrens said.
Sanford was the main cog in the penetration. The lightning quick senior flew past the Wildcats and either dished out to teammates on the perimeter or finished it off himself with driving layups.
At times, the Wildcats had three freshmen on the floor in Chad Cox, Bridger Bolos and Aden Gerrian.
This was Gerrian’s first taste of varsity action. He was impressive with his quickness, deflecting and at times intercepting Patriot passes.
Ebrens said the lack of scoring and the need to play freshmen are part of a high school coach having to play the hand they are dealt.
However, in the years to come that varsity experience for the younger players could pay dividends.
“Right now we have JV talent and have to play a varsity schedule,” Ebrens said. “But the experience the young kids are getting is invaluable.”
UC went to 7-5 on the season while the Wildcats are 1-9.
The visiting Twisters had a 7-2 record coming into its Saturday, Dec. 29 game against FC.
While here, the Twisters proved why they have a good record defeating FC 48-29.
FC stayed within reach of the Twisters through three quarters.
At the end of the third, Oldenburg had but a 10-point lead, 35-25.
However, the Twisters outscored the Wildcats 13-4 to seal the deal.
Floyd led the Wildcats in scoring with nine points. Freshman Bridger Bolos contributed six points while fellow freshman Chad Cox had five points.
Junior forward Jake Johnson had a game-high 25 points. He was followed by sophomore guard Andrew Oesterling’s nine points.
Ebrens understands the frustrations with the season.
“I told the seniors that I know they are frustrated, but they have to stay positive and be leaders and to look for little victories throughout the rest of the season,” Ebrens said.