Franklin County had a great moment in its Sectional 29 opener against the host South Dearborn Lady Knights Wednesday, Feb. 5.

The Lady Wildcats, however, couldn’t come up with an encore in the overtime session as SD advanced to the semifinals with a 39-37 win.

After a missed Knight free throw late in regulation, coach Joe Adams called timeout to set up a final play. Ashlan Hill reversed the court to Taylor McCreary, who passed to Jenna Bruns on the baseline; the latter’s jump shot hit the bottom of the net for a 33-33 tie as time ran out. 

The Knights, though, scored the first four of OT before McCreary hit 1 of 2 from the foul line. SD missed two charities with 16.7 seconds left, but FC misfired on a couple attempts at the other end. McCreary sank an academic three at the horn.  

The low-scoring affair was tight all the way, the biggest lead coming at 18-13 after a 6-0 run by the hosts to start the second half. Baskets by Elsa Meek, Bryanna LaGreca and Kyrstin Bond had Adams stopping play at 5:44 of the third. A jumper by Alex Gillman finally put the Wildcats on the board at 3:47. 

“That’s been our issue the entire season, stretches of games where we just can’t put the ball in the bucket,”Adams remarked. “Our defense is always really consistent, but sometimes we just can’t score. I feel like we were in a rut that ended up getting us in the long run.”

McCreary and freshman Natalie Rupp traded buckets. FC freshman Josie Rolfes provided a spark in the final 90 seconds. She and Meek swapped 3-pointers before two FTs by Kairee Hodapp. Under the 10-second mark, a kickout three by the freshman gave the ‘Cats their first lead (25-24) since halftime. 

Scores by Rupp and Meek helped the Knights to a 5-0 spurt to begin the fourth quarter. Hodapp’s field goal made it 29-27 before Bond bumped the lead back to four. A three-minute scoring drought ensued, broken up by Bruns’s 15-footer. With 50 seconds remaining, Hill dished to Rolfes for the tie. SD temporarily regained the lead when Meek got loose on an inbound play.

A banker by Bond and two freebies each from Meek and LaGreca proved the difference in overtime. 

Bond’s runner in the lane opened up scoring two minutes into the contest. But the Knights were shut out for a long stretch as FC drew even, then pulled ahead on a Hodapp layup and a Bruns hoop in transition off a long Kloe Bolos assist. Former Wildcat coach Doug Robertson called time, down 6-2. The Knights recaptured the lead by the end of the frame, getting a Bond FG and a three from LaGreca.

Hodapp’s second-chance shot tied the game at eight, but SD makes from Rupp and Bond forced an FC timeout at 3:59. The Wildcats closed the half on a 5-0 run, Bruns hitting from mid-range and McCreary finishing a Hill assist on the break.

Bruns and Hodapp tied for team honors on offense with 9 points each; Rolfes and McCreary put in eight apiece. Bond and Meek each scored 13 for the Knights. 

“Obviously, Bond was our focus, but they have good role players who will hit shots,”Adams said. “If she gets open, you have to close out and force her to drive. She didn’t play as well last time we played them, but she hit big shots when they counted (tonight).”

The loss ended the careers for Hodapp, Hill, McCreary and the injured Laura Hildebrand. 

“They all had really good things that we’re going to miss,”said Adams. “McCreary played every position for us, was very consistent and played a ton of minutes. Same for Kairee, who was at the front of our defense and one of our best rebounders. Ashlan’s a really good athlete who handled the ball well and, as a defender, looked to get the steal and finish on fast breaks.”

Franklin County finished 8-14 in Adams’s second year at the helm. SD fell 60-22 to Greensburg Friday. The Lady Pirates defeated Lawrenceburg Saturday for their third straight sectional title. A regional match with Evansville Memorial awaits Greensburg. 

“I thought we’d be better than last season because we had more experience,”Adams said, referencing the 7-15 from a year ago.

“I was a little disappointed, since there were a couple of games I thought got away from us,”he went on. “Hopefully the non-seniors –and we had a lot who played –can build off that and push hard in the off season to have momentum into next season.”