By Becky Kimbrell-Norris
WAKE FOREST — On the heels of a season opening 59-52 loss to Lighthouse Christian on November 7, the Franklin Academy boys’ basketball team set its sights on its next opponent, Raleigh Hawks and defeated them 67-33 Monday night.
The Patriots responded well after losing their first game of the season and evened their early record to 1-1.
Seven different Franklin Academy players scored in the winning quest and three of those scored in doubles figures.
Junior Devon McCluskey led all Patriot scorers with 21 points and junior Brandon Hanson and Chase Moseley, added 15 and 11 respectively.
“I was happy the way we played after a tough loss to start the season,” said Franklin Academy coach Matt Durkin.
The Patriots got off to a fast start and outscored their visitors 22-11 in the first quarter.
At halftime, Franklin Academy remained in control with a 36-24 lead.
“Raleigh was able to keep the game within close reach by hitting a few three pointers and getting some second chance points on the offensive boards,” Durkin said.
The Hawks also forced the Patriots to turn the ball over 15 times in the first half.
Franklin Academy had only four turnovers after the break and hit some key free throws down the stretch to keep their lead in double digits.
Chris Burnette led Raleigh with 21 points while Isaac Green scored 19.
Against Lighthouse, Hanson had a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds but it was not enough to secure a win.
Franklin Academy struggled offensively and shot a dismal 32 percent from the field and 30 percent from the foul line.
“These two low percentages prevented us from making a sustained run, get momentum and force the opponent into a different defense other than zone,” Durkin said. “Lighthouse did a great job making their free throws and keeping the game just out of reach for 32 minutes.”
The Patriots led 7-6 after the first quarter and both teams traded buckets in the second.
A basket by Andrew Weiss tied the score at 19-19 with 58 seconds left in the first half but Lighthouse hit a shot and a free throw and took a slim 22-21 advantage into the break.
“Offensively, we ran the floor, shared the ball and got up a ton of shots,” Durkin said. “There’s not much you can do better other than to convert on them. We settled for perimeter shots early on but started to exploit the middle in the second half, but missed many chippies underneath and open looks.”
Defensively Franklin Academy tried to pressure the Hawks first passes and tried to trap every time they were in the zone.
“That’s not a strategy the coaches plan on using the entire season, but the team needed to practice this in real time game speed situations to better react in the future,” Durkin said.
The Patriots were able to force some turnovers and bad passes but that was still not enough.
“We did a good job of it but our offensive production let us down,” Durkin said.
By the end of the third quarter, Raleigh had increased its lead to 39-31.
A three point shot by Weiss pulled Franklin Academy to within four points at 47-43 with 1:54 left in the game but that would be as close as the Patriots would get.
“The effort was definitely there and we hustled diving on the floor for loose balls and getting back on defense,” Durkin said. “We were only down a few possessions most of the second half but it seemed every time we cut it to one or two possessions, the opponent came with up a big shot.”
“It was a great game from start to finish and everything we would suspect a first game to go like,” he added. “There were some good things, some bad things and lots to work on.”
Weiss also scored 18 points and pulled down seven rebounds for the Patriots.
Franklin Academy’s next game is December 2 at home against Durham Flight at 7:30 pm.
“We need to improve in every facet of the game,” Durkin said. “Our ability to compete with any team is contingent on us improving every time we touch the practice floor.”
“As the coaches get a better sense for what this team’s make-up is then adjustments can be made and our potential can be realized.”