For the Daily Reporter
FRANKLIN — Franklin’s girls basketball team faced an uphill battle in its season opener Thursday, hosting a Mt. Vernon squad that returned most of its top players after a sectional championship run.
The way the Marauders shot the ball made that hill impossibly steep.
Mt. Vernon started out hot and never really cooled off, burying the Grizzly Cubs with a barrage of baskets on the way to a 59-34 rout.
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“Things just fell our way,” Mt. Vernon coach Julie Shelton said. “When you shoot well, it makes everything look a lot better and easier.”
After Franklin got within 11-5 on a 3-pointer by Megan Thompson, the Marauders scored the final 10 points of the quarter, with Olivia Yeley accounting for six of those. Free throws by Abby Worley a minute into the second stretched the visitors’ lead to 23-5.
Mt. Vernon was pretty close to perfect in the opening period, forcing seven turnovers and knocking down nine of 10 shots. Franklin coach Josh Sabol had hoped that by putting some pressure on and forcing the tempo, he could use his team’s depth to wear down the Marauders, who don’t often go more than six players deep. Unfortunately, Mt. Vernon’s torrid start ruined that plan.
“I’ve told the girls that’s from sharing the basketball,” Shelton said. “Preaching sharing the ball and taking good shots, and they’ve done a very good job of that. I thought we made an extra pass several times to get a better shot than we could have taken. We did hit some harder shots early, but I just thought overall, for a first game, we played a very good team game.”
The Grizzly Cubs’ defense actually tightened significantly in the second quarter when it was able to get set, but an inability to get into a rhythm on the offensive end — they finished the half with 16 turnovers — allowed the Marauders to continue picking up points in transition. Consecutive buckets from Yeley, Lexi Shelton and Worley grew the margin to 31-10 with 1:40 to go before the intermission.
Abby DeArmitt scored off of a defensive stop to open the second half for Franklin, but Mt. Vernon responded by scoring 11 consecutive points, with Sydnee Perry sinking two 3-pointers and Worley another, and suddenly it was a 46-16 game by the 3:37 mark of the third.
The margin got as wide as 37 points before the Grizzly Cubs scored the final 12 points of the game to tighten the final score a bit.
Mt. Vernon got a balanced scoring effort, led by 15 points from Yeley. Lexi Shelton wound up with 14 points, while Perry and Worley added 13 apiece.
Julie Shelton was thrilled to see such a big performance out of Yeley, who didn’t see much regular action until the state tournament last winter.
“For her to have a breakout game today was awesome, because she needs that experience and confidence,” the coach said. “Those surprise things I was really glad to see.”
DeArmitt finished with eight points and five rebounds to lead Franklin.
The Marauders are back on the road Saturday against Warren Central.