By Stephen Smoot
A Frankfort team much improved from the one that gave up a 32-point loss in December flew into Franklin last week. They clashed with a Pendleton County squad putting the last pieces in place for, hopefully, a deep postseason run. The Falcons brought a team with tremendous height across the board, with a significant advantage over the Wildcats’ outside players. Frankfort, like their cross-county rival, has a team loaded with experience as well.
Frankfort controlled the opening tip, but Chase Owens ruled the first two minutes. He stole the ball with 19 seconds gone, then hit a trifecta of three-point shots in less than a minute of play, giving his team a 9-2 lead with 5:55 left in the quarter.
Pendleton County spent much of the first quarter patiently building a lead. Clayton Kisamore scored from the foul line to extend the lead to 10-2, then took a steal all the way to the basket, finishing with a finger roll. Josiah Kimble later hit a three-pointer after his team grabbed three offensive rebounds in the possession, giving his team a 15-8 lead with three and a half minutes left in the quarter.
When Jacob Beachler took a Kisamore lob for a score at the 55 second mark, the Wildcats seemed to have taken control with a 21-11 lead. Frankfort then countered with two three-point shots and a layup to close the quarter with a 21-19 score.
The Falcons surged ahead in the second quarter. They tied the game at 23 with a three halfway through the quarter. Kisamore hit two free throws to inch back ahead, but the Falcons answered quickly. Frankfort attacked the middle with their big men, often using one to distract Pendleton County’s shot blocker Beachler while passing around him to get layups. At the same time, they caught fire from the field.
By the half, Frankfort had taken a 13 point lead and seemed to have seized command of the game.
Pendleton County took the floor in the second half as a different team. Although they gave up a steal in the early seconds, they dominated the quarter. Frankfort helped considerably by continuing to put some of the best Wildcat free throw shooters on the line.
The Wildcats attacked the Falcon defense with drives and strong offensive rebounding. Owens scored on the third offensive rebound of a Wildcat possession at the 5:49 point. Shortly after, Brayden Beachler hit a 10-foot shot on a pullup that set the score at 42-39, still Frankfort’s advantage. A defensive goaltending call in the final seconds extended the Frankfort lead to 44-41.
Pendleton County achieved a remarkable feat in the third. Frankfort failed to hit a shot from the field in the entire stanza. They completed two free throws. Jacob Beachler actually accounted for half of their points in the quarter with the goaltending call.
Two great teams then faced off in the fourth quarter, virtually dead even. Coach Jeremy Bodkin exhorted his team between the quarters, saying “I know you’re tired. Give me everything you’ve got.”
A coach can shine with his X’s and O’s. He or she can also excel at play calling during the game. Sometimes, however, a coach must be the kind of leader who gets more out of his team than even they think they can give. Pendleton County and Frankfort had both given 100% in three physical quarters. Both teams excelled and even dominated at times.
The win in this game would come to the team that not only wanted it more, but also had more to give. Coach Bodkin got exactly what he asked for in the fourth – and then some.
Pendleton County started the quarter down 44-41. Kisamore drove to the basket and laid the ball in to cut the lead to one, followed by blocked shots from Jacob Beachler and Dusty Smith.
A Kimble layup at the 6:15 mark finally put the Wildcats on top 46-45, but the lead was short-lived. Frankfort scored on two successive layups to retake the lead and push it back out to three. Kisamore responded with a made layup while drawing a foul. Frankfort’s discipline then cracked as their team picked up a technical foul in the aftermath of the call. After the layup and free throws by Kisamore and Kimble, Pendleton County enjoyed a slender 50-48 advantage with 4:45 left in the game.
Pendleton County then spread the floor, using passing and cutting to work the ball around. This ate up the clock while giving the Wildcats optimal opportunities against a tiring Falcon defense. Frankfort players who had challenged Pendleton County successfully on defense prior now fouled. Wildcat players took advantage, hitting most of their free throws down the stretch to extend the lead. With a little more than three minutes to go, Smith took a hard foul while attempting a layup, but hit both of his free throws to give his team a 53-50 lead.
Kimble shortly thereafter ended a Falcon possession with a steal, then 10 seconds later was fouled. He made one to push the lead to 54-50, but Frankfort quickly answered with their own layup with almost two minutes left. Owens fired right back, hitting his own layup to put the lead at four again. With 38 seconds left, he hit two free throws to put the game close to out of reach.
Owens then hit two foul shots with 6.5 seconds left, but the Falcons scored last in the hard earned 61-53 Pendleton County victory.