South Ripley sophomore Rachel Meyer nailed a driving buzzer beater going down the middle and to the right of the goal to end the third quarter, giving her visiting Lady Raiders a four-point advantage 33-29. 

It could have been a momentum booster for the Raiders in a game where the score had been tight for all of the first 24 minutes.

However, it went the other way. Those were the last points the Raiders scored on the day, and Franklin County poured in 10 points during the last eight minutes to win, 39-33, Saturday afternoon, Dec. 14.

“It felt like we were making a run to finish the third quarter, and usually a buzzer-beater in a close game shifts the momentum to that team,” FC coach Joe Adams said. “We did a good job of overcoming that to start the fourth by picking up our effort level.” 

The Lady Wildcats played several different defenses, starting with a 3-2 zone and then ending the game with the same zone. In between, the Wildcats went man, 1-3-1 half-court trap and 1-3-1 full-court trap. The latter seemed to be what troubled the Raiders the most, forcing several turnovers at a crucial time.

“In the first half, we started out really slow and seemed sluggish,” Adams said. “Our full-court pressure picked up the pace of the game, which was in our favor. We forced turnovers and allowed us to get some easy buckets.”

In the first half, the Wildcats seemed to have started their Christmas break a little early.

Neither team could score in the first four minutes of the game, trading turnovers and missed shots.

FC got on the scoreboard first with a senior Taylor McCreary field goal coming off a Raider turnover.
However, the visitors poured in the next seven points to take a 7-2 lead with but 1:26 to go in the first.

Adams took a timeout, which resulted in a free throw for senior Ashlan Hill and a freshman Macy Crain contested bunny from the right side right before the buzzer, decreasing the South Ripley advantage to two, 7-5.

Scoring picked up in the second quarter and by halftime, the Raiders were up by six, 20-14.

The Raiders 3-2 zone seemed to handcuff the Wildcats.

“They're a team that primarily plays 2-3 zone, so at this point in the season, they understand how to play zone and what holes to cover up,” Adams said. “We wanted to play fast, and their zone was preventing us from doing that.”

Arguably the best Raider offensive threat was senior center Cierra Copeland. She finished with a team-high eight points and was an intimidating physical presence on the floor.

“Copeland is a really good post player. She plays strong, has good post moves, and passes well for a big,” Adams said. “She killed us in the second and third quarter. We were finally able to slow her down at the end of the third and throughout the fourth.” 

With Copeland silenced offensively, the Wildcats seemed to gain energy a couple of minutes into the third quarter. It came after senior Lindsay Meyer hit a field goal for the Raiders, giving the Raiders the only double-digit lead by either team in the game. The Raiders held a 26-16 advantage with 5:35 left to go in the third quarter.

Enter junior Kloe Bolos. The point guard calmly nailed two consecutive threes from slightly to the left of the court’s center. That seemed to provide the proverbial spark.

“One of our biggest improvements from this season to last season is that we have a couple of girls who can hit threes for us,” Adams said. “Last year, we struggled from three, making it difficult to stay in games. Kloe in the last three games, has really stepped up and shot the ball well from three. This opens up the rest of our offense and allows other girls to get open looks.”

FC continued to whittle away the Raider advantage in the third, carving it down to two, 31-29 before the South Ripley buzzer-beater.

Not only was the Wildcat offense alive, but the defense was remarkable, holding South Ripley scoreless for the entire final eight minutes of the game.
“We've been trying to add some new defenses so that we could switch them up throughout the game,” Adams said. “We tried to do that during the fourth quarter. Regardless of how many defenses you play though, it's an unbelievable feat, especially against a team like South Ripley that shoots the ball so well from the outside. 

FC tied the game with six minutes left in the contest and then McCreary stole the ball and hit a layup for the lead the Wildcats never relinquished, 35-33.
Officials had let the girls play basketball throughout the contest. That meant the Raiders had but one team foul entering into the final minutes of the game.

So, the Raiders could not stop the clock even though they tried to foul the Wildcats. It was not until 15 seconds remained in the game, the Wildcats entered a one-and-one situation.

“I had no idea the fouls were so low at the end of the game,” Adams said. “It seemed to be a pretty physical game but them having to foul multiple times played to our advantage because it kept running off precious seconds.”

One area where the Wildcats have struggled this season is free-throw shooting.

However, Saturday, when the Wildcats got their few chances at the charity stripe, especially down the stretch, they were taking advantage of the situation.

Hill made her two free throw attempts with 2:56 remaining to give the Wildcats a four-point advantage, 37-33, and then Bolos shot a one-and-bonus with 15 ticks remaining and hit both for the final score.

“Our free throws were huge in our win against Shelbyville and on Saturday,” Adams said. “It's something we've spent a lot of time on, and I'm hoping it's something we can continue to use to our advantage in close games.” 

Following Bolos free throws, Lindsey Meyer unleashed a three attempt, but it was off, and McCreary secured the rebound ending the game.
FC did not have one main scorer. 

Hill had a game-high nine points while Hodapp and Bolos each had eight points. McCreary finished the game with seven.

“We've had a really good balance in the last three games,” Adams said. “Our seniors have led the way in scoring with Bolos doing her share, as well.”
South Ripley  fell to 4-7 on the season and was scheduled to play 8-1 Switzerland County Tuesday night, Dec. 17. Many games were canceled on

Tuesday due to snow and ice.

FC went to 4-6 on the season.

Its game with Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference foe Batesville set for Tuesday, Dec. 17, was postponed due to inclement weather. 

The girls are now off until after Santa Claus comes to visit. They return to action on Friday, Dec. 27, when they compete in the Lebanon Tournament.
Franklin County plays Eastern (8-3) in the second game while fellow EIAC team, South Dearborn (1-10), plays the host school, Lebanon (5-4) in the tournament opener.

Their next regularly scheduled game is Friday, Jan. 3 when the Wildcats play host to Oldenburg Academy.

Both the boys varsity and girls varsity will play on that night.