GREENSBURG - The Franklin County Wildcats' boys basketball season came to an end on Friday evening. The Cats took on Batesville in the second round of the 3-A Sectional 29 and fell by a score of 53-26.

The Cats took an early 5-0 lead with Brant Ertel scoring and a Quinn Gillman three-pointer, but a 6-0 Bulldog run put them in the lead with Gus Prickel, Cole Pride and Sam Johnson doing the damage. Gillman connected from deep again to give FC the lead back. Jack Grunkemeyer and Pride finished off the first quarter putting the Dogs up 11-8. A 6-0 Batesville start in the second quarter was ended with a Tanner Weartz basket for the Cats. Three Batesville three-point baskets (Cade Kaiser 2, Johnson 1) gave them a 10-point lead at the half. The Cats got a pair of long balls in the second quarter; Gillman hit his third deep ball and Ertel connected on one. The score at the half was BHS 26, FC 16.

The Dogs poured on the points in the third frame and put the game out of reach. The Cats only managed four points in the frame while the Dogs put in 20 to go up 46-20. The Cats added six points in the final period while the Dogs added seven to win the game by 27.

Johnson led Batesville with 14 points, Kaiser added 13, Pride 11, Grunkemeyer 7, Prickel 5 and Carson Laker 3.  FC was led by Gillman with 11, Jace Lee 6, Ertel 5, Weartz 2, and Isaiah Kemp 2. 

FC finished 10-14 as Greensburg won sectional.

1st round vs. Rushville
A pair of Franklin County senior running mates were determined not to go home early from Sectional 29 hosted by Greensburg.

Lee and Ertel combined for 32 points Tuesday in the tournament opener against Rushville, an Ertel to Lee basket icing the game late for FC in a 50-45 win. Both Wildcat upperclassmen missed significant time during the 2022-23 season, making up for those lost minutes with Tuesday's performance – Lee a game-high 18 points and Ertel 14.

The same combo made it 44-38 in FC's favor around the game's 3-minute mark but 3-pointers by Quentin Cain and Kameron Morton (Cain assist) tied the contest at 44 with 80 seconds left.

FC senior Brady Morehead was then sent to the free throw line; he missed the front end of a one-and-one but collected the carom and returned to the stripe. This time he was good on both charities. Gillman rebounded a missed three by Rushville, was fouled and sank 1 of 2 for a 3-point Wildcat lead. Cain made 1 of 2 after being fouled but out of an FC timeout, Lee scored and Morehead added a foul shot with only fractions of a second left.

The Cats enjoyed their largest margins as play went deep into the third period. A reverse layup by Lee made it a 31-23 with 4:32 to go. Rushville managed just six free throws before quarter's end, while FC got a pair of key 3-point shots – Ertel at 2:33 off a Gillman assist and junior Eli Butt at 1:48 from the wing. It was a 37-29 game with eight minutes to play.

A three by Xxzavien Jenkins made it a 5-point game early in the fourth. Morehead answered with a tip-in and subsequent FT attempt; the missed freebie had FC up 39-32 before another Jenkins triple. A successful drive by Lee and later his drawing a blocking call on Lion big man Dylan Thompson led to a 42-36 count.

The game had a bizarre opening. Rushville was assessed a technical foul during the warmup session (violations include dunking) so Butt stepped to the 15-foot line to get the contest underway – making 1 of 2. The FC guard soon put the Cats up 4-2 with a 3-point bucket. The Lions scored the next five points, capped by a Morton to Chase Woolf finish.

At 7-7, Cain completed a 3-point play before Gillman found Ertel in the corner for the tie. Rushville, working for a final shot in the quarter, got exactly that as Jenkins connected from beyond the arc for a 13-11 Lion lead.

Cain popped a jumper just inside the foul line to start period two, though he picked up a charging call shortly after. Xander Rodriguez made it 15-13 with an athletic putback. Nick Jarman (from Morton) hit from the 3-point line at 4:53 of the half to put RCHS up five. With the score 19-13, Lee ended a dry spell for FC with back-to-back layups. An Ertel drive completed first-half scoring, leaving the Cats just shy at 21-19.

The Wildcat run reached 9-0 as play resumed. Ertel drove in for two more, Lee was true on two FTs and Gillman finished a successful 3-point play. FC never trailed again. Three more points by Ertel had Lion coach Ryan Ehm calling time at 5:05 of the third.

Jenkins paced RCHS with 13 and Cain scored 11. Morton had 9, Thompson was held to five free throws, Woolf added 4 and Jarman 3. Butt 7, Morehead 5, Gillman 4 and XRod 2 rounded out the winning side.


By Chris Louden, Staff Writer & Will Fehlinger, Sports Editor