Menomonee Falls boys basketball team rallies past Franklin, 58-50

Jan. 5, 2016

A lot can happen in 75 seconds.

Enough to change the course of a basketball game.

The Franklin boys were playing stingy defense and were hitting enough shots to have host Menomonee Falls completely flustered in the first half. The Sabers had a 24-18 lead with just 1:15 left in the half and looked to be cruising into the break with a small advantage and more importantly some badly needed confidence.

Instead when the halftime horn sounded, it was the Indians with all the momentum and the lead at 25-24, courtesy of a 7-0 run.

They would secure the advantage permanently early in the second session and then proceed to stymie the hard-luck Sabers, 58-50, for their fourth win in a row.

"I think it was an energy thing," said Falls coach Ben Farley. "We weren't finishing, but the important thing was that we didn't freak out. It was frustrating. We were missing a lot of lay-ups and post-ups.

"But what happened at the end of the first half was huge. We pride ourselves on finishing halves strong. We came out flat, but it was a heck of a way for us to finish things."

The win improved the Indians to a 7-3 overall record, their best start since the JP Tokoto years of the recent past.

Meanwhile, for first-year Franklin coach Tyler Podoll and his Sabers (1-8 overall), it was another hard-luck loss in a season full of them so far.

"The key word of the week for us was execution," he said. "We've had five games this season where it was a one point game or so with about two minutes to go and we've lost all five. If we execute, we win a lot of those games.

"And tonight we executed perfectly until those final two minutes of the first half. ...It was just really frustrating. Right now, we're just trying to figure out a way to win."

A Marcus Lee jumper from the wing gave the Sabers their largest lead at 23-16 with 3:08 left in the half and it certainly looked like Franklin had a formula for victory concocted. They held the Indians to three of 25 shooting from the field for the first three-quarters of the half and were physical and active underneath.

And after a Tyler Klug free throw made it 24-18 Frankllin with 1:15 left, all still seemed well.

But that's when the Indians turned up the tempo and the Sabers execution started to falter.

Junior guard Justin Gruber hit a lay-up for Falls to make it 24-20 with 40 seconds left, A short time later, senior guard Bryce McMurtry cashed in an easy hoop off a steal to make it 24-22 with just 13 seconds to go.

And amoments later, a scramble for a loose ball led to Gruber flying in for a lay-up with just a half-second on the clock. He was also fouled and he cashed the free throw for a three-point play and the Indians first lead since it was 4-3.

"We had two turnovers that led to two baskets and that changed the game," said Podoll.

Franklin made one more mini-surge at the start of the second half, as a pair of Lee free throws and a lay-up by him made it 28-25 Sabers with 16:21 left.

But the Indians then went on a 9-2 run to take the lead for good. McMurtry hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 12:33 remaining to close out the run and make it 34-30 Falls. It was the first trey of the evening for the Indians.

Matt Teska hit a trey of his for the Sabers to make it 38-36 Falls with 10:23 left but then the Indians took firm control of the game with a 13-2 run that put them up 51-38 with just 2:49 left.

Five different players contributed to the run. A big factor in the effort was the energy and intensity of senior forward Jerin Frey who would finish with a game-high 17 points. Frey played stout defense, attacked the basket at will and was fierce on the boards.

"He was just super active," said Farley. "We challenged the guys at halftime to come out with more energy and passion and Jerin served as a great example with his rebounding, defense and energy inside."

The lead would reach 14 before the Sabers made a brief mini-run at the end of the game.

Lee finished with 11 to lead Franklin while Klug had nine and Max Alba eight.

"We've got the talent, we've got the players in position," said Podoll. "We've simply got to execute better. We have to get tougher both mentally and physically, because I think teams are just being a bit tougher than us at key moments."

That was reflected at the foul line as the Sabers hit just five of 12 free throws while the Indians got to the line frequently, knocking down 19 of 25 attempts.

For the Indians, Gruber helped Frey with 12 points while McMurtry had eight and Jalen Dixon seven.

"I think we just got back to our basic principles," said Farley. "...Right now we're just taking one game at a time and every game is a big game for us.

"...The kids are giving good effort and that's something we can be proud of."

 

 

 

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